Mini reviews: A Mixed Bag. How It Ends – Saskia Sarginson 4*. Crown of Midnight – Sarah J Maas 5*. The Tattooist of Auschwitz – Heather Morris 3*.

How it ends – Saskia Sarginson

Goodreads synopsis

1957: Within a year of arriving at an American airbase in Suffolk, the loving, law-abiding Delaney family is destroyed. Did they know something they weren’t allowed to know? Did they find something they weren’t supposed to find? Only one girl has the courage to question what really went on behind closed doors . . .

Hedy’s journey to the truth leads her to read a manuscript that her talented twin brother had started months before he died, a story inspired by an experience in the forest surrounding the airbase perimeter. Only through deciding to finish what her brother started does Hedy begin to piece together what happened to her family.

But would she have continued if she’d known then what she knows now?

Sometimes, it’s safer not to finish what you’ve started…

Our review

This book was great. I don’t generally read books that are set in a different time. And I especially don’t read books with a war/military setting as I find it too depressing.

I don’t want to give away spoilers, so hopefully this is spoiler free!! 🙂

However, this book had love, hate and family at it’s heart and it was a pleasure to read. An awesome twist toward the end kept it engaging until the last pages.

Set in the 50’s, we meet Hedy. Her family has been ripped apart and she needs to find out more to put her mind to rest. But does she really want to uncover the truth when it may not be what she expects? Her mother Ruby is an interesting character, she starts taking drugs to cope with life and her father Todd is having trouble dealing with his military work. 

We make our way through to a more recent time and eventually we see everything come together and be explained, and this is where we get that little satisfied tying-up-of-loose-ends feeling.

A good read, one I would recommend.

Crown of Midnight – Sarah J Maas

Goodreads synopsis

From the throne of glass rules a king with a fist of iron and a soul as black as pitch. Assassin Celaena Sardothien won a brutal contest to become his Champion. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown. She hides her secret vigilantly; she knows that the man she serves is bent on evil.

Keeping up the deadly charade becomes increasingly difficult when Celaena realizes she is not the only one seeking justice. As she tries to untangle the mysteries buried deep within the glass castle, her closest relationships suffer. It seems no one is above questioning her allegiances—not the Crown Prince Dorian; not Chaol, the Captain of the Guard; not even her best friend, Nehemia, a foreign princess with a rebel heart.

Then one terrible night, the secrets they have all been keeping lead to an unspeakable tragedy. As Celaena’s world shatters, she will be forced to give up the very thing most precious to her and decide once and for all where her true loyalties lie… and whom she is ultimately willing to fight for.

Our review

I love it, I love it, I love it!

If Throne of Glass was the teaser book to draw you in  –  an assassin competing for her freedom, a love triangle between said assassin, the Captain of the Guard and the Crown Prince with a little bit of magic and ghosts thrown in –  then Crown of Midnight is where it all starts changing. In my opinion Throne of Glass could serve as an amazing standalone book about a teenage assassin competing for her freedom and getting embroiled in a love triangle, simple as, job done, but in Crown of Midnight we see that actually Sarah J Maas has created a vast and  complex world of magic, heritage, love and loyalty. 

I liked to think of Crown of Midnight as being split into two, the adorable first half of the book where the love triangle is concluded with the beautiful but fleeting relationship between Chaol and Celaena ( wooo Team Chaol all the way, yes I have read the entire series but ssshhh), the dance in the garden is divine and makes my little fangirl heart so happy. Their relationship ignites, burns brightly and then is extinguished in the worst way possible –  not kidding, this part is so emotional it gets me every time I read it. Where in choosing Chaol, Celaena loses something very dear to her and this is the spark that ignites the real Celaena.

What comes out of the wreckage that is left between Chaol and Celaena sees our heroine acknowledging the part of her self that she has long since tried to forget and it is this that really sets in motion the rest of the series. We also have a secret plot to overthrow the King, the introduction of the Ironteeth witches, a heap load of magic and most importantly the truth of Celaena’s heritage is revealed.

This is another exceptional book from Sarah J Maas and I am now off to read Heir of Fire 🙂

The Tattooist of Auschwitz – Heather Morris

Goodreads synopsis

The Tattooist of Auschwitz is based on the true story of Lale and Gita Sokolov, two Slovakian Jews who survived Auschwitz and eventually made their home in Australia. In that terrible place, Lale was given the job of tattooing the prisoners marked for survival – literally scratching numbers into his fellow victims’ arms in indelible ink to create what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust. Lale used the infinitesimal freedom of movement that this position awarded him to exchange jewels and money taken from murdered Jews for food to keep others alive. If he had been caught, he would have been killed; many owed him their survival.

There have been many books about the Holocaust – and there will be many more. What makes this one so memorable is Lale Sokolov’s incredible zest for life. He understood exactly what was in store for him and his fellow prisoners, and he was determined to survive – not just to survive but to leave the camp with his dignity and integrity intact, to live his life to the full. Terrible though this story is, it is also a story of hope and of courage. It is also – almost unbelievably – a love story. Waiting in line to be tattooed, terrified and shaking, was a young girl. For Lale – a dandy, a jack-the-lad, a bit of a chancer – it was love at first sight, and he determined not only to survive himself but to ensure that Gita did, too. His story – their story – will make you weep, but you will also find it uplifting. It shows the very best of humanity in the very worst of circumstances.

Like many survivors, Lale and Gita told few people their story after the war. They eventually made their way to Australia, where they raised a son and had a successful life. But when Gita died, Lale felt he could no longer carry the burden of their past alone. He chose to tell his story. 

Our review

This is not the kind of book I would normally read. I was given it as a birthday present back in March and was laid up at the weekend with a bad back, so decided to give it a go. 

Now, I don’t do emotional. I don’t cry. I don’t read books to make myself feel sad or sympathetic. So for me to read this and finish and not hate it, was quite a miracle. 🙂

It tells the tale of Lale, an eastern European Jew who has been sent to Auschwitz to work, in order to save his family. He’s street smart, slightly cocky and a bit of a ladies man. This book starts with Lale arriving at the camp and being given his number, told where he’s sleeping and generally getting to grips with life at the concentration camp. He gets a job, that seems to afford him some ‘status’ amongst the SS and other guards. So he is relatively safe compared to the majority of other prisoners. He sees a girl – Gita – gets close to her and their love story begins. 

Like I say, this isn’t my kind of book and to be honest I wouldn’t read it again. It was very well written, a lovely tribute to the many, many victims of this abhorrent crime. I enjoyed the pace, it was easy to read and it was emotional. There was enough detail to know what was happening, without being gratuitous and over-the-top violent just for the sake of it. It didn’t need it. I think it is often worse having to fill in the blanks yourself, than having them laid out before you. Your mind can imagine so much more horror, than can be written on the page.

Definitely one I would recommend to those with an interest in the holocaust, romance, historical fiction. It is quite short so don’t be surprised if you finish it in one go.

Happy reading!

Becca and Kate x

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