BOOK REVIEW: In the Warsaw Ghetto by Glenn Haybittle

This post is going to focus on In the Warsaw Ghetto by Glenn Haybittle. I received an eARC through NetGalley. It was published on July 30, 2019. This book took me quite a while to get through–much longer than I expected.

When I read the summary and saw the beautiful cover of a ballerina in a rundown building I thought this would be a story that tried to take an uplifting route through World War II. I assumed Ala Silberman would be a dancer, impacted by the move to the ghetto, but somehow overcoming the atrocities performed against the Jewish people. Boy, I couldn’t have been more wrong!

I found the first half to two-thirds of the book incredibly difficult to get through. It was much slower paced than the last bit of the book, and did a lot of the building of scene, when life was still as “normal” as it could have been for the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto. The book is told in alternating chapters between Ala Silberman, and her uncle Max.

Ala has been training to be a ballet dancer when she and her family is forced to live in the ghetto. In the beginning she leads a privileged life compared to many of the others in the ghetto because her family has ties to the Judenrat.

Max is still in love with the ghost of a girl he was close with while at university. They have been apart for a decade, and she has married and had two daughters. Once times become a bit harder, he finds Sabina once more, now separated from her husband. Max cares for her and her daughters to give them a better life within the ghetto.

As the story continues and years pass, living conditions within the ghetto get much worse. The reader is able to see what life is like through various characters that were previously built up. More and more are deported to Treblinka, or killed within the ghetto. Finally, there is a Jewish uprising against the Germans in the ghetto, which really sped up the reading.

This was a really heavy book to read thematically, but it was also somewhat enlightening to read. I feel like it brought you more into the world that the Jews lived in, instead of only learning about the atrocities committed against them by the Nazis. In school, students learn that Nazis are bad, and what they did was bad, but the deeper lessons are often glossed over, and I think this book did a good job of bringing some of those to light for the reader.

Happy reading 🙂

BOOK REVIEW: Chase Darkness With Me: How One True-Crime Writer Started Solving Murders by Billy Jensen

This review is going to take a look at Billy Jensen’s new book: Chase Darkness With Me: How One True-Crime Writer Started Solving Murders. It was released on August 13, 2019 so it is still relatively new. I was lucky enough to purchase an autographed copy from the Poisoned Pen!

I am a somewhat new listener of the My Favorite Murder Podcast hosted by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark, and have been binging episodes pretty much everyday. While listening to My Favorite Murder, I learned about the rest of the podcasts on the Exactly Right Network, and have been a proud listener of Jensen & Holes: The Murder Squad since the beginning of the show.

For those of you not familiar with the Murder Squad podcast, it is a true-crime podcast hosted by Billy Jensen, who is a crime reporter and the author of the book covered in this review, and Paul Holes a retired homicide detective who helped solve the Golden State Killer (GSK) murder case. The premise of the podcast is in line with what Jensen has written in Chase Darkness With Me in that they both aim to put the general public to work to help solve cold cases, whether they are murder cases, missing person cases, or something else.

Obviously, for the sake of time they can’t go into too many details on the podcast to instruct listeners how they can help the cause. That is what this book does. It covers some of Jensen’s white whale cases from his career, and how he has worked diligently over social media to help get tips on these cases and more. He goes into depth on how the civilian citizens can help do the same.

One of his white whale cases, known as the Allenstown Four, happened in my home state and I was immediately interested when I heard them cover it on the podcast. I had never heard of the crime before, but since I listened to the podcast I have heard it referred to more and more. And for good reason! Three of the four victims have since been identified by a librarian. It was fascinating to learn more about the Allenstown Four while reading Jensen’s new book.

It was touching to learn about how his relationship with his father trained him to spot crimes, and how he followed up on posting the social media campaigns related to these cases after the death of his close friend Michelle McNamara.

I highly suggest everyone go out and pick up a copy of Chase Darkness With Me by Billy Jensen. It was an excellent read, and really meaningful to connect with readers that can help solve some of these crimes in the future. Also, take a few minutes and check out their website to learn more about some of the cases they are working on and how you can help: The Murder Squad.

Instead of my usual sign off, I’ll use Billy’s–“Don’t be an irony”

BOOK REVIEW: This is Me by Chrissy Metz

This is Me by Chrissy Metz, of the TV show This is Us, is a heartfelt memoir that chronicles Chrissy’s life from the time she was a small child through to her major success as an actress on This is Us.

This book was quite the page turner! I picked it up and finished it in two days. To those of you who don’t know me, that’s really quick. Only fluffy fiction stories get finished that quickly usually. But this meaty, deep story hit home for me in many ways.

I found it beyond easy to connect with Chrissy, as someone who was bullied through school. I envied her courage to move across the country to follow her dreams. I also was beyond happy to see someone famous showing readers/followers that it isn’t easy to enter Hollywood. Although many actors didn’t have it easy, we don’t often hear such gut wrenching stories about the “before they were famous”. This is Me truly does this with vivid detail.

This is a super short review because I actually read this quite some time ago, but it was a beautiful book, and I hope that you pick it up to read this enlightening read.

Happy Reading 🙂

BOOK REVIEW: I Wanna Sext You Up by Evie Claire

This review is going to look at the new romance I Wanna Sext You Up by Evie Claire. It was released yesterday, Tuesday August 20, 2019–so go find a copy! I received an eARC of this title through NetGalley. I Wanna Sext You Up is the second installment in Claire’s Let’s Talk About Sext series. The books can be read consecutively, or independently.

This romance centers on Lorie Braddock, a rookie pharmaceutical sales representative who is trying to sell a new way to treat diabetes patients. One of the young doctors on her circuit, Dr. Saam Sherazi, is highly career driven and has ignored, kicked out, and even banned some of the representatives on Lorie’s team from his office. She also happens to be a former beauty pageant queen, a real southern belle.

Lorie goes above and beyond and gets a meeting with Saam. She notices that they have the same phone and puts her’s out on the desk to show him. In her rush to leave–you guessed it–she grabs the wrong phone, and in returning their phones to each other, they have to meet again, which leads to sparks, and of course sexts, flying.

Will Lorie and Saam be able to navigate making a relationship work? Or will they get stuck losing out on each other for the sake of others and their jobs? This was a quick, fun read so I suggest you take a little time and go find out! I know I’ll be going back to find the series’s first installment Let’s Talk About Sext at some point to return to the work romance world that Evie Claire has created.

Happy Reading 🙂

BOOK REVIEW: Speaking of Summer by Kalisha Buckhanon

This review is going to cover Speaking of Summer by Kalisha Buckhanon, who is also the author of Upstate. I received a finished copy in lieu of galley from Counterpoint Press. It was released on July 30th.

This was a more difficult book for me to read, not the page turner I was expecting from cover to cover. Although, this book did pick up speed for me as I went on.

Buckhanon tells the tale of Autumn Spencer, whose twin sister Summer has gone missing, and nobody really wants to look for her. Autumn is also dealing with the grief of her mother’s death at the same time.

As the book continues on, Autumn has more and more trouble coping, turning to her sister’s boyfriend, alcohol, and drugs. She also starts researching other murdered women, and their killers, imagining whether they also killed her sister.

Although the book started out slow for me, it did speed up about mid-way through and kept a steady fast pace from there. It spoke to several current social issues, such as race relations, alcohol and drug abuse, and mental health. It’s a hard hitter that will keep you thinking afterwards. I hope some of you head out and pick up a copy!

Happy reading 🙂

BOOK REVIEW: Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center

This review is going to discuss Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center. Before I received this ARC, I had never read anything by Katherine Center, and I am so glad that I received the opportunity to read this book because I absolutely loved it right from the beginning. I received an ARC copy through the #thingsyousavebook early reader campaign. 

This book focuses on Cassie Hanwell, a young woman who also happens to be the only female firefighter in her firehouse in Texas, but also one of the best firefighters. Cassie deals very well with other people’s problems treating them like her calls to a fire or medical emergency. However, she doesn’t handle her own trauma anywhere near as well.

When she was just a girl her mother abandoned her and her father. Being a girl, but the only child of a now single dad, Cassie grew up excelling at sports, and she pursued her interest in firefighting. But now, Cassie’s mother is ill, and asks Cassie to move across the country outside of Boston to be her caretaker. She doesn’t want to go, but between her father asking her to go and a scandal at the firehouse it’s the only way that Cassie can continue to work as a firefighter.

Boston is completely different from her Texas firehouse and it is difficult for Cassie to adjust to the sexism, but she does her best to prove to her new house that she is brave and capable even though she is a woman. In Texas, Cassie lived the life of a nun, never dating, and focusing on her career. That’s still the plan, but there is one very tempting guy that could make her resolve buckle.

I thought this book was written very well, and that the heroine had the right mix of personal issues to handle, as well as the romance. I never really felt like one half of that was ignored, but that they worked together very well. Things You Save in a Fire comes out TODAY 8/13/2019 so get out and find yourself a copy and enjoy Cassie’s story of courage, love, and forgiveness.

Happy reading 🙂

BOOK REVIEW: Love and Other Mistakes by Jessica Kate

In this review I’ll be taking a look at Love and Other Mistakes by Jessica Kate. I received this book as an eARC through NetGalley and its release date is July 30, 2019.

This book focuses on the relationships of Natalie Groves–including family relationships, work relationships, friendships, and past love. It covers quite a few heart aches between all of those and looks at how Natalie will handle and get through each hurdle. Although she is the main protagonist, we also see the story through the eyes of Jeremy “Jem” Walters–the ex-fiance of Natalie. To complicate matters more we also meet his sixteen-year-old niece Lili and her family.

Jem left Natalie months before their wedding was to take place and pursued a degree and his dream job. He arrives back home with a 9-month-old son in tow and runs into Natalie who just lost her job. She’s trying to take care of her parents so she works as a nanny for Jem and all sorts of old drama comes out. As they work together closely and care for his son, sparks fly between the two. Will they come to terms with their past?

One thing I liked about this books was that although Natalie was working an internship and chasing a dream career in ministry–the book didn’t force it, and allows the reader to see that there may be a different plan laid out for you. There isn’t just one path to success, and sometimes priorities change.

I don’t often read Christian Romance, so this was a nice change of pace for me to read. I usually don’t like anything that gets too preachy about religion, and I think the author did a good job of including religious elements without trying to change the reader’s views.

I also liked that the book clearly demonstrated that Christians aren’t perfect and that they lead real lives too. I often feel they are portrayed only in good light and this book highlights mistakes made and dealing with the consequences in the aftermath.

I didn’t really care for all of the teen drama with Lili’s situation (I don’t really want to spoil that here so go read the book for that plot line!). Although I understand her decisions, up to a point, I found her character completely self-absorbed and annoying.

Happy Reading 🙂