Tuesday: First Chapter, First Paragraph

I’m going to join in on the First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros fun, hosted by I’d Rather Be at the Beach.  Each Tuesday, she shares the first paragraph(s) of a current read, or book she will soon be reading. Such a great idea! When I am going through the ridiculously difficult ordeal of choosing which book to read next, I often read the first page of a few books and go with whichever one intrigues me the most!

I’m sharing the first few paragraphs of a book I just started: Fawkes by Nadine Brandes.


 

fawkes
Source

One

York, England

Late Spring, 1604

I wasn’t ready to turn to stone.

I leaned so close to the small wall mirror that my nose left a grease spot on the glass, but I held still. Or tried to. I couldn’t control the trembling. The grease spot smeared.

My right eye reflected a bright blue iris, but it was the left side of my face that held me a whisper away from the mirror. Cracked stone blossomed from the chiseled marble that should have been an eye. The ball didn’t move, the lid didn’t blink. I lifted shaking fingers to my face. Petrification tickled the hairline of my eyebrow. A single infected hair protruded like a stone needle.

The plague was spreading.


I am only on chapter three of Fawkes, and I am definitely enjoying it so far. I love when history blends with fantasy, and I have a good feeling about this one!

Goodreads synopsis: 

Thomas Fawkes is turning to stone, and the only cure to the Stone Plague is to join his father’s plot to assassinate the king of England.

Silent wars leave the most carnage. The wars that are never declared, but are carried out in dark alleys with masks and hidden knives. Wars where color power alters the natural rhythm of 17th century London. And when the king calls for peace, no one listens until he finally calls for death.

But what if death finds him first?

Keepers think the Igniters caused the plague. Igniters think the Keepers did. But all Thomas knows is that the Stone Plague infecting his eye is spreading. And if he doesn’t do something soon, he’ll be a lifeless statue. So when his Keeper father, Guy Fawkes, invites him to join the Gunpowder Plot—claiming it will put an end to the plague—Thomas is in.

The plan: use 36 barrels of gunpowder to blow up the Igniter King.

The problem: Doing so will destroy the family of the girl Thomas loves. But backing out of the plot will send his father and the other plotters to the gallows. To save one, Thomas will lose the other.

No matter Thomas’s choice, one thing is clear: once the decision is made and the color masks have been put on, there’s no turning back.


What do you think? Would you keep reading?

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Review: Auschwitz Lullaby by Mario Escobar

auschwitz lullaby

 

Auschwitz Lullaby brings to life the story of Helene Hannemann—a woman who sacrificed everything for family and fought furiously for the children she hoped to save.”

 

 

Auschwitz Lullaby is based on true historical events involving the Nazi persecution of gypsies, Jews, and other minorities during WWII. Helene Hannemann was a German woman — married to a Gypsy man — with five young children. As her husband and children are brutally arrested in their own home, Helene (as a “pure” German) could have evaded arrest; however, she refuses to leave her family and ends up separated from her husband and imprisoned with her children in the Gypsy camp at Birkenau. As a German nurse, her talents are recognized by the famed Dr. Mengele, who instructs her to open a nursery and school for the camp’s children. We are shown in great detail the suffering and daily horrors that life at Auschwitz brings for Helene and her children. For many of the women and children, the nursery ends up becoming a “ray of hope in the midst of the darkness,” and although Dr. Mengele has provided them with this hope, the reality of his medical experiments weighs on Helene. She grapples with one of the enduring questions of humanity: how can humans be capable of such good and also such evil?

“I preferred to see the Nazis as inhuman monsters. The more human they acted, the more horrifying they became, as it meant any and all of us were capable of becoming as despicable as they were.”

I adore historical fiction, but it is a difficult genre to master. This novel is an enthralling and exceptional example of what historical fiction should be. I will admit that I am biased; as a history teacher, I’m fascinated by WWII fiction and non-fiction, and have been to Poland to visit Auschwitz and Birkenau. Despite my bias, I think this novel would be an enjoyable read for most people. Escobar expertly describes the setting and characters while maintaining an engaging and fast-paced storyline.

I also enjoyed the writing, which was staightforward but also poetic. I found myself constantly pausing to re-read sections that were written so beautifully:

““It’s all coming to a close like a Shakespearean drama. Tragedy is inevitable, as if the author of the macabre theatrical work wanted to leave the audience with their jaws on the floor. The minutes are marching inexorably toward the final act. When the curtain falls again, Auschwitz will keep writing its story of terror and evil, but we will have become souls in purgatory haunting the walls of Hamlet’s castle, though unable to actually warn anybody about the crimes committed against the gypsy people.”

One of the reasons I find World War II so intriguing is because of the ineffable horrors inflicted upon others, essentially due to ideas of superiority based on race and ethnicity. It is hard to comprehend how such tragic and brutal events could transpire. I am fascinated by the resilience of the many people who endured these horrors, and reading about them serves to remind me of my blessings, cultivate greater empathy, and take stock of what is really important in life.

“Sometimes we have to lose everything to find what is most important. When life robs us of what we thought we could not live without and leaves us standing naked before reality, the essential things that had always been invisible take on their true value.”

As Auschwitz Lullaby is based on true events and real people, it is brutal, honest, and heartbreaking — but it is a beautifully written testament to the strength of love and the sacrifices we make for family.ausch

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Publication Date: August 7, 2018

Rating: ★★★★★

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Thank you to Thomas Nelson for providing me with a copy of this book through NetGalley. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.


Do you enjoy reading historical fiction? What is one of your favourite historical fiction books? Leave a comment below to let me know!

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Welcome to my Book Blog!

112Hi! My name is Janice. I am new to book blogging, and I have a serious reading addiction…

I suppose I’ve always been addicted to books, but my affliction has become increasingly serious as I’ve gotten older. We can blame my parents for igniting my imagination with creative bedtime stories (both made up and read from books). They happily fed my reading addiction for many years.

A little less than a year ago, I started a Bookstagram account. I had subscribed to this AMAZING new thing called a book subscription box. I am sure at that point subscription boxes had been around for awhile, but I was living in Northern BC, Canada, which is slightly removed from, well – everything! The first Novel Editions book box I received was absolutely magical! The novel itself – The Witches of New York – piqued my interest, and I adored all of the lovely goodies packaged so perfectly alongside the book. I thought, oh my goodness – this is perfection in a box! People need to see this! Of course, I snapped some photos and shared them on my personal Instagram. From there I was introduced to Bookstagram, bookish hashtags, other book subscription boxes, bookish merchandise, and all of the amazingness that comes along with book nerds sharing their love of books online!

Bookstagram has been adding fuel to my book addiction fire, and I am completely okay with that. I have met so many wonderful people, and started my own little business creating bookmarks and book sleeves.

A few facts about me:

  • My favourite genres are: historical fiction, contemporary and fantasy (although I read anything that sounds interesting)
  • I also love reading non-fiction about history, politics, philosophy, sociology, and anthropology
  • I am a full-time high school teacher
  • I need frequent immersion in nature to survive
  • Coffee is my life source
  • Tea is nice too

So, in order to share my thoughts on everything book-related, I have started this blog! I’ll be adding reviews of books as well as sharing book subscription boxes and other favourite bookish things! I hope you’ll enjoy it.

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