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Saturday, September 15, 2018

Bern's Bookcase: My Real Name is Hanna Book Review

5 Stars for this poignant, beautifully written debut YA novel that was inspired by real Holocaust events.  

One of the most touching aspects of this book for me was the strength, determination, loyalty and love each of the characters showed during such a bleak and desperate time. It isn’t easy to sustain positivity during such a horrifying time. Yet, family, friendship, hope, culture, devotion and religious beliefs paid a pivotal role in sustaining the Jewish people through the darkest of times when all else was lost.

In My Real Name is Hanna , Hanna Slivka is a young teen forced to leave her home and life as she knows it behind when the Germans cross the border into the Ukraine intent on making the land "Jew free". Along with members of her family and others from her village, she is forced into hiding in underground caves. There they live in the damp and cold darkness with meager amounts of food and little to no real comforts for over a year. 

For a book focused on a time filled with such bleakness, cruelty and despair the story was beautiful, almost lyrical in its descriptions and emphasized compassion. It focused on the people that put their lives at risk to help others. The strong familial bonds and unyielding friendships depicted were a stark contrast to the prejudice, violence and hate of the time.

This is a powerful story that should be read and experienced by all.

For more information on the real events that inspired this story check out this article on Esther Stermer and her family - Jewish-Stermer-family-Ukraine-hid-cave-escape-Holocaust.html

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Bern's Bookcase: The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle Book Review

My mind is officially blown! The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle had such an intricately layered plot. Trust me on this one - it's a MUST READ! Unfortunately, I refuse to explain it. You simply have to take my word for it. Why? This is the kind of read that you absolutely need to jump into blindly. You will feel like you are flailing in the water, drowning. Just keep reading, treading through the chapters as you go. Grab hold of the bits that are sent your way and store them. 

Honestly, it still won't be enough. I thought I was prepared for Turton. I read carefully, giving it my full attention. I even re-read parts to be sure I understood what I thought I was meant to understand. I even highlighted and took notes on my kindle. None of it was enough. I was no match for the sheer genius of Turton's creative, out of the box thinking. I did not see where I was being led. 

This was an outstanding literary puzzle! It was not only an expertly crafted, richly layered whodunnit. It truly ends up being so much more. This was a truly stunning debut novel! I can not wait to see where Turton's mind takes us next. I know I will definitely be along for the ride!

Happy Reading,

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Bern's Bookcase: Truth and Lies Book Review

4 Thrilling Stars for Truth and Lies

DI Amy Winter is a strong, resilient and respected police officer. She wants nothing more than to make her recently deceased police officer father proud. Then she receives a letter from Lillian Grimes, one half of a notorious and prolific serial murder duo, claiming she is her birth mother. 

This book had some serious cat and mouse action going between Amy & Lillian. I enjoyed their back and forth push and pull. Lillian is pure evil. She is a master manipulator, excelling at mind games. Amy never backs down, despite the turmoil she endures as her childhood memories begin to resurface. Amy must face her past in order to uncover the location of long hidden bodies and possibly save a young girl's life. 

The story took some well crafted twists & turns and left us with a very enticing cliffhanger. Mitchell certainly has an excellent start to a series here. I look forward to seeing what book 2 has in store for Amy.