Book Review: “Queen of Martyrs: The Story of Mary I” by Samantha Wilcoxson

Hello!

I actually wasn’t going to post this review so soon, but in order to (hopefully) go with my plan for next month’s posts, I need more room within the last two weeks of October, so I had to come up with a Plan B, and this was it.

On Wednesday, I published my review for the first book in the Plantagenet Embers series, which was about Elizabeth of York. I mentioned that I was in the middle of a Plantagenet/Tudor phase, at the moment, and I was currently reading this book, while in reality I was flying through it, which is how it the review is coming out much sooner than I had originally planned. I hope you enjoy this post and maybe it’ll inspire you to check out Samantha’s books!


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How did a gentle, pious woman become known as ‘Bloody Mary’?
 
‘God save the Queen! God save our good Queen Mary!’

When these words rang out over England, Mary Tudor thought her troubles were over. She could put her painful past – the loss of her mother and mistreatment at the hands of her father – behind her.

With her accession to the throne, Mary set out to restore Catholicism in England and find the love of a husband that she had long desired. But the tragedies in Mary’s life were far from over.
 
Step into Tudor England

taken from Amazon.


I’ll be honest, I have never been interested with anything to do with Mary I.

I know what I’m about to say is debatable, but I wholeheartedly believe Matilda of Flanders and Lady Jane Grey were both Queen of England, as they were named heirs to the throne by their previous kings, so is Mary I truly the first queen? This question may never find an acceptable answer.

Mary had been raised as her father’s heir, a beloved princess who would one day rule in her own right,

It was interesting to meet this woman who was so caring of others, turn into this “monster” who ordered the deaths of heretics. I do know that for my first fictionized view of Mary’s life after the deaths of her beloved mother Catherine of Aragon and former governess Lady Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury until her final day on Earth.

You have an unique chance to see how she treated everyone, including her relationships with her younger siblings Edward VI and the future Queen Elizabeth I. She is so full of love being around them, although she never really grew to trust her sister, but with Edward, that connection was clearly different in the beginning, before he becomes king. You see her around her stepmother Katheryn Parr, to her ladies-in-waiting, counselors, husband Philip of Spain, and her cousin Cardinal Reginald Pole.

After reading this book, I believe she never found someone she could truly love and trust other than her God. I’ve personally never understood the Catholic faith, so I don’t want to pass judgement on her or anyone else. However, there’s a part towards the end where she asks her sister if she would like to be sent to a convent, after Elizabeth declines a marriage proposal. It’s interesting how devout Mary was to her faith, but she seemed like she couldn’t submit to God like a nun, if Mary hadn’t been next on the succession to the throne, would she have give up all of her royal things to become a nun? It’s just a thought really.

Now let’s discuss her aliments that she seems to have suffered all throughout her life. The extreme headaches, nausea, and eventual mass in her abdomen. I was familiar with the story of her experiencing a phantom pregnancy, this really broke my heart as I had become somewhat sympatric to her up until this point. The part I was a bit confused on was what kind of sickness was she dealing with between the last of her father’s reign and beginning of her brother’s?

Well, this is my theory of it. both Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon actually share a common ancestor, Catherine of Lancaster. Catherine was the daughter of John of Gaunt, the 1st Duke of Lancaster. She was born to the red side of what would be part of The War of the Roses. Sound familiar to you? Catherine would go on to marry Henry II of Castile. They had a son by the name of John II of Castile, who in turn fathered a daughter, the future co-ruler Isabella of Castile, who would later marry Ferdinand of Aragon. These were Catherine’s parents and Queen Mary’s grandparents.

Her coronation must include the traditions of those who had gone before her, with the vital exception that she was not male.

Let’s go back through John of Gaunt’s line. John had married three times, Blanche, Constance and lastly his mistress Lady Katherine Swymford. Katherine would give birth to four children; since their children out of wedlock, they were not given their father’s surname, instead they were the Beauforts. Their first son John Beaufort, 1st Duke of Somerset married and had children with Margaret Beauchamp, they had a single child: Lady Margaret Beaufort. She would fight to get her son Henry Tudor to the English throne and create a brand-new line of royals, thus how we got Margaret, Queen of Scots, Henry VIII, Mary, Queen of France, Duchess of Suffolk and their descendants.

It was common practice to marry into family lines, at one time Mary was actually betrothed to her uncle Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor as a young girl. Instead, she married her cousin and Charles’s son Philip. He was the only husband to assume the title “King” and I can understand why on all fronts. Anyways, back to my theory, could have both Henry VIII, Catherine of Aragon and their oldest daughter suffer the consequences of marrying a cousin? We have to include Henry’s lack of hundreds bastard children (aside from his own daughters!) to understand that it wasn’t just Catherine’s fault he wasn’t getting a son. Could this have happened to Mary as well? She could have suffered from multiple conditions in the inbreeding of her parents. We just don’t know and may never know either.

Okay, I apologize for my mini family trees between Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon. I figured if I didn’t include them, you would be lost in translation. I’ve included a couple of links into those two paragraphs to hopefully make it easier to look back on each of their lines.

Have you read the third and final book in Samantha Wilcoxson’s “Plantagenet Embers” series? If you have, do you have a favorite story? Let me know in the comments below!

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Book Review: “Plantagenet Princess, Tudor Queen: The Story of Elizabeth of York” by Samantha Wilcoxson

Hello!

I was on my Instagram stories the other day, and as I was passing through others, I saw a very small bit of Samantha Wilcoxson’s; sharing that the first book of her Plantagenet Embers series, The Story of Elizabeth of York was free for that day. In my mind, I thought it would be just like my other ‘freebies’ and store it for a later date once it was fully downloaded, but I didn’t wait to start it. I think I may have lasted about 12 hours total, which wasn’t a surprise at all. I have a strong weakness for historical fiction, especially if they discuss the Tudor dynasty.

In the midst of reading this book, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II had died, and this story about another Queen Elizabeth (she was a Queen Consort, not Regent!) really helped me heal through the news of her death. I found these two women to have a similar story, they were not expected to ascend to their positions, as Elizabeth II’s father was the brother of the disgrace Edward VIII, so his younger brother Prince Albert, The Duke of York became King George VI in 1936, where his wife Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyons would later become referred as “Elizabeth, The Queen Mother” as their first daughter Princess Elizabeth would eventually be title Queen Elizabeth II. She obviously didn’t want to overshadow her daughter’s own name when she inherited the throne in 1952.

For anyone out there who would like to explore the story of Elizabeth of York’s story as a nonfiction, I definitely recommend Elizabeth of York: A Tudor Queen and Her World by Alison Weir, but if you should probably read something about her mother, The Dowager Queen of Edward IV and I suggest Elizabeth Woodville: Mother of the Princes in the Tower by David Baldwin.


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She was the mother of Henry VIII and wife of Henry VII, but who was Elizabeth of York? Raised as the precious oldest child of Edward IV, Elizabeth had every reason to expect a bright future until Edward died, and her life fell apart.

When Elizabeth’s uncle became Richard III, she was forced to choose sides. Should she trust her father’s brother and most loyal supporter or honor the betrothal that her mother has made for her to her family’s enemy, Henry Tudor?

The choice was made for her on the field at Bosworth, and Elizabeth the Plantagenet princess became the first Tudor queen.

Did Elizabeth find happiness with Henry? Did she ever discover the truth about her missing brothers, who became better known as the Princes in the Tower?

Lose yourself in Elizabeth’s world in Plantagenet Princess, Tudor Queen.

taken from Goodreads.

I find Elizabeth of York so fascinating! On one foot, she was born of Plantagenet blood, on the side with the “White Rose” full of Yorkists, with her father Edward VI at the head of the family and kingdom, with his common wife Elizabeth Woodville. She was their first child, and even though her parents wished for her to be a boy, she was still loved and could be a way to tighter alliances in the future of Edward’s reign, and she was brothel to a few people, the one Samantha discusses in the book was Louis, the Dauphin of France.

Elizabeth still wasn’t sure that she was ready for what she must face, but she had been given little choice.

Bess, as she was referred in the book, is a very important person in the aftermath of the Wars of The Roses, After the disappearances of her younger brothers and heirs to the throne, she has the unlucky advantage of becoming the wife to the Red Rose, the Lancastrian Henry Tudor. However, we see her in the presence of her uncle Richard’s eye at the start of the story and honestly, this arrangement could have worked, at this time she was considered a bastard, plus it wasn’t uncommon for royals to marry into their own family lines, I mean, just look into the lives of the Hapsburgs!

Another part of this though, Bess and her sister Cecily try to establish contact with their brothers who they assume are still alive and well somewhere in the country, away from court life in the thick of Richard’s reign. When Henry Tudor is proclaimed king, he and Elizabeth are married, and she gives birth to Prince Arthur, and they deal with the pretenders of the crown. Despite the fact there isn’t much about the real “Bess” opinions about politics as she wanted to be a submissive wife–the total opposite of her mother by the way!–I wonder what she really thought about these attempts of stripping her husband and son’s titles away. As a reader, it’s heartbreaking to try to decipher between her loyalty of her family, and if these men were in fact her brothers. I’m still reeling over the last paragraph of the book because it annoyed and stunned me at the same time.

The rose was white in the center and blood-red at the edges of the petals. A white York rose dipped in Lancastrian blood.

Back in 2020, I had read the second book of this series, Faithful Traitor, it was about Lady Margaret Pole, daughter of George Plantagenet, Duke of Clarence (who was Edward IV and Richard III’s brother and Lady Isabel Neville oldest child, and this one gives you more of an insight into the events that happen after Bess has passed away.

I am currently reading the third and final book Queen of Martyrs which is about Queen Mary I’s rise to the throne. Once I’m finished with it though, I will not be reading the novellas that go along with the other books in the series–I’ve tried to get through Once a Queen: The Story of Elizabeth Woodville and Prince of York: The Story of Reginald Pole, twice so I’ve put them in my DNF shelf (did not finish) on Goodreads. However, I do have one other book by another author on my list that discusses this time frame but on the point of view of the Lancastrian side, as it follows Lady Margaret Beaufort and her son, the first Tudor king, Henry VII. I’m aiming to get a review out towards the end of October, but we’ll see what really happens there.

Have you read “Once a Queen: The Story of Elizabeth of York” or any of the other books I’ve listed above? If you have, please share your thoughts in the comments section.

snowflake

September Playlist + Meet My Niece!

Hello everyone!

This past month has been pretty crazy and I’m happy to be done with it honestly.

The beginning of it was interesting though, my sister has expected contractions throughout her pregnancies, but she went to the hospital more frequent with this one, and the most recent weren’t necessarily had anything to do with my niece. She had some issues with her breathing and her feet were very swollen, and she was told to rest more and put up her feet, and she tried to do everything the doctor requested but she still had complications, so she went to the hospital to be checked out and when she came home over two weeks later, we had welcomed our newest member into the family!

💗 MEET KIMBER MAE 💗

In my baby announcement back in May, I mentioned that I wasn’t going to share her name until she was born, mainly for the suspense but I also didn’t know whether or not her parents would change it last minute.

Kimber is a preemie, like moi, but at least she didn’t weight like two pounds and have to spend roughly 70 days in the NICU! Despite this though, she actually weights one pound less than her brother Nolan. We are all in agreement that we definitely don’t remember Nolan ever being this small! Nolan was a chunky baby but she’s very petite. A big difference between she and Nolan is that Kimber loves to be swaddled whereas Nolan has never enjoyed being wrapped up. He’s even four years old and he does not sleep with a blanket on him!

Since she came so early, as she was supposed to be born in early October, we had to make some adjustments to our plans of having my nephew come to our house while Blondie was in the hospital, we assumed it would be like two days, but it turned out to be two weeks. He went to his dad’s house on certain days but for the most part he stayed at our house, and he was a very good boy. He was very helpful to us, especially my dad and I, with our issues lately. I watched a LOT of toddler based educational shows like Paw Patrol, Blippi, and Cocomelon. By the end though, I was growing to be a fan of Blippi’s videos at Children’s Museums and Zoos. And at night we switched between Bluey (another favorite of mine!) and Muffet Babies. He seemed to enjoy having a sleepover in Aunt Meg’s room.

When Blondie was officially allowed to go home, she came to our house, and I finally got to meet her after almost a week after she was born. I was thrilled as this meant that I could have her on my bed like I did when Nolan was a baby. My mom got her a bouncy seat thingy in the beginning of her pregnancy, and we got to test it out and we found out that even though she enjoyed sitting in it, she seemed even smaller! I swore she gave me a little smile that next morning too!

found on Unsplash

Now let’s move on to the sad part of this post. I was hoping to write a separate one, but I thought it would look strange since I included Kimber’s announcement in this one.

I am very sad that Her Majesty the Queen has died. She was the reason why I became obsessed with the British royals and other monarchs in Eastern Europe, as I was curious about why she had the Roman Numeral “II” behind her name and that’s when I discovered my love of the Plantagenet and Tudor dynasties.

I have watched many documentaries on the Queen’s 70 reign in the last few years. I’ve enjoyed seeing her all dressed up, doing engagements out in public in various colors and her signature smile, hat and bags. She always seemed so interested in everything! I will forever enjoy the opening of the opening ceremony of the Olympics in 2012, where she walks the walls of Buckingham Palace with James Bond and her corgies, and acts like she drops out of the helicopter into that arena, I knew it was fake but it still shocked me they would do something like that. She must’ve had her say in the way of the segment too, after all she is the Queen, she wasn’t going to do something that showed her in a negative way, and joining Daniel Craig, allows us as the audience and fans to see her playfulness and overall sense of humor!

After 70 years of her reign, we now have a King and will probably have one for quite a while as after King Charles is William, The Prince of Wales, and his son Prince George of Wales. This part is a part weird, but I’m sure I am not alone in my thinking, but I am curious on how the British royals will evolve into this new order, and still be able to be caring human beings to themselves and others around the world.


As you can imagine, having to experience all of these new changes in a matter of two weeks, I haven’t been able to listen to music nor read my books as much as I normally do, I am finally trying to keep up with my stuff but I’m trying to take it easy as well.

This month saw a lot of good and bad things, but I still had my music to get me through it. So, I hope you enjoy my Top 20 below. If you’d like to play the entire monthly playlist on Spotify, click here

Little Lies by Fleetwood Mac
Fallin’ For You by Colbie Calliat
Sometimes A Prayer Will Do by Celtic Woman
All She Wanna Do by John Legend
Late Night Talking by Harry Styles
Brand New by Ben Rector
Love Me Anyway by P!nk featuring Chris Stapleton
Vegas by Doja Cat
Choke by The Warning featuring grandson and Zero 9:36
Shivering by Illenium featuring Spiritbox
Kickstart My Heart by Halocene featuring Shershen&Zaritskaya
Bow Down by Rain Paris
Toxic by Charlotte Wessels
Try Again by Aaliyah
Come, Little Children by Clovet Mae
Godless by BANKS
Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost by Eklipse featuring Melissa Bonny
Bom Bidi Bom by Nick Jonas featuring Nicki Minaj
Black Widow by Fame On Fire featuring Twiggy

What were listening to this month? Name your top three favorites in the comments!

snowflake

The Garden Tour | Side-Yard + Pickle

Hello, and welcome back to the next part of our garden tour!

For today, this post will be about the side yard mini garden, so technically, last month’s post was mainly about the landscaping the front end of our house, and if you haven’t checked it out yet, click here. Honestly, it doesn’t matter which post you read first but if you want to hear my thoughts about these changes, plus the reason why I am even writing these blog posts, you can read them later.


Last fall, we had a miracle happen in our backyard. A single sunflower sprouted up from the ground. The only way it could have flourished was around mid-summer, my mom found me some sunflowers at the store and once they become very droopy and sad, my parents toss them out the back door. Unfortunately, we don’t own a compost contain, so any food leftovers and scarps end up in the back and the cats tend to enjoy most of the food we throw it, however, they don’t eat the dying flowers (thank God!) and it decided to upcycle itself and leave us with a nice present one day!

Everyone seems to know that I am obsessed with sunflowers, and my dad has always wanted to grow a big bunch of them in and around the location of my bedroom window, but I’m very short, even if I am sitting in bed or my wheelchair, so this past spring, we made the decision that we were going to have a wall of sunflowers up against Rumer’s fence. If we didn’t have either of them, I still believe my parents would have planted them in the front anyways. It’s the area where they would have full access to the sun as there are no trees in that whole section, so they have a huge section to grow and spread some joy to the neighborhood.

We actually planted two different kinds of sunflowers, we had the regular yellow and my folks kind of fell in love with the chocolate ones. I was a little hesitant about them because I didn’t exactly know how they would turn out, but they are so beautiful!

In the beginning, we put about five seeds if I remember correctly into five separate pots. They in various sizes but they all seemed to take off around the same time and it was neat to watch them come out of the dirt, and grow little green leaves and stems. Since these were like my babies, everytime I went outside to visit with our cats, I would roll over there to check on their progress. My mom and I were looking at them almost on a daily basis, and since I am a huge namer, I decided to give each pot a name because to name each flower would be too much, especially with the amount we have now.

I became very inspired by the fact that Ukraine’s national flower was actually a sunflower, I thought the pots needed to be named after names used there in a way to honor the people and state. So, with that being said, the first big pot had the largest collection of flowers in it, so I named that one Boris. I don’t know why, but I felt like I needed to use this name. It may not be a well-used name, but I took that as a sign and went with it. The meaning behind Boris is fighter, so I thought it was perfect as the Ukrainians are real fighters, it doesn’t matter whether they are on the front lines or left their homes, schools, life, etc. They are survivors.

The middle pots are similar in size and my mind went, “well they’re fraternal triplets!” so they were all named with my favorite girl names, Oksana (means: welcoming, hospitality), Olesya (means: protector, forest), and Olena (means: torch, shining light). Olena is for the First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska! And finally, the last pot was the smaller and I was drawn toward the name Lev, which means lion, so it’s smally but mighty at the same time.

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By June, all of the sprouts were ready to be replanted along the fence line and my parents sent like a whole day and a half getting these guys into place, once there they were given a little bit of water and they began to grow.

Since this was our first time with sunflowers in general, we were a bit puzzled when my mom snapped this picture. We were sort of concerned because it looked like we had planted some very weird Venus Flytraps! We did make a note of the inside of the plant had a small hole in the middle and we realized this was where the seeds were, and the little dark green spikes would become the petals. We were thrilled when they transformed but it was cool to see a part that we never knew happened in their way of becoming regular sunflowers.

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Once they began to climb up the fence, they started to change again–this time it was size! Several of the sunflowers were a little too top heavy and so my dad stuck some dowls into the ground next to them to help give them some stability, and they seemed to relish in the support because they are huge, and I mean, they are so big in the middle part they still have issues lifting up towards the sky. So, these flowers really hide among their leaves and other flowers. They are still pretty but you instantly feel bad for them too.

It’s sort of funny if you really think about it; although we only bought (and planted) two packages of sunflowers, we ended up with three different flowers. We expected all of them being in the same size as the chocolates, but then we have a small section with these bad boys! We are sort of dumbfounded at the mystery, but they’ve been fun to watch as the season changes, and we know going into this we would have a bunch of bees come around to collect pollen, and we were right with that assumption, but we’ve also seen some hummingbirds and yellow birds make their way to them in the last month.

Back in late July, I finally got to go around to see them up close and they were somewhat intimidating as they just towered over my mom, sister, nephew and I. It was sweet to see a couple of the newbies (because we have even more flowers traveling up to the others!) and I’m happy to say, it makes really happy to see cars come around our neighborhood to see them. We had an older man bring his wife around to see them the other day and I thought it was so sweet because I love going to other sunflower gardens too! We also have a lot of bees visiting too. Bees are very important to our ecosystem and even though I am terrified of them, I don’t want them to disappear forever because they are probably the reason why we have baby sunflowers below the veterans.

While I was outside, we made a trip to see the other garden along the left side of the house. Nolan managed to find a baby cucumber and pulled it off its stem. He really loves visiting the gardens and picking the vegetables with Mimi and Papaw. He was very proud of his discovery too! A few days later, my mom went by the same section and found the biggest cucumber we’ve seen so far! We don’t know how we managed to pull these things in the same time span, but it happened.

In this garden, we also have some green pepper plants. As a family, we like to snack of chopped up peppers with dip, use them in stuffed peppers (or stuffed mangos as my dad grew up calling them!) and finally salsa!

As the title says, I’ll be discussing our pickling process as well, but we have also made one batch of marinara sauce, and two large batches of salsa. Now, I will not be going into too much detail about the steps to make each one, but I did have my mom take photos of the packages they used to create them though! I’m hoping that’ll be enough, but I also wanted to leave you with their links as well at the end of the post!

On July 16th, we got our first harvest, and the cucumber was really big. I often wonder why my folks don’t pick them while they are somewhat smaller, but it may have something to do with ripeness like most vegetables. I don’t really know. I was never a fan of cucumbers, unless they transformed into pickles… so I’m not an expert on them. Honestly, I can’t physically grab any of our vegetables out of the gardens, which is why my knowledge is lacking in certain areas.

Anyways, the first time my parents decided to start creating our own pickles, they went all in with it and made four different kinds: bread-and-butter, kosher, garlic kosher and non-kosher dill. I have tried one of the dills and it was WAYYY too strong for any of us! Last month, I finally got to try a bread-and-butter and they were much better, very mild and even though they were sitting on the kitchen table, they were not cold, and it didn’t matter because I got to savor the flavors a lot better compared to them coming out of the fridge and my teeth screaming at me because of the coldness!

My nephew was even part of the pickling process, he really loves to help out, and a way to use this to our advantage was getting him involved with stuffing the wedges inside each mason jar and he really enjoyed being able to do this. What was cute though was my dad had this smaller jar that is like a fraction of the others, and he cut cucumber wedges smaller so Nolan could have his own jar! He seemed to love having his own stash in the fridge but since he went home before the jar itself cooled down, we ended up holding onto it for a couple of weeks!

A couple of weeks after my folks completed their first attempt at the pickles, my mom really wanted to make her own marinara sauce, we eat a lot of pizza and spaghetti in our house! Unfortunately, when my mom tried it, she wasn’t that impressed with it, and hasn’t tried to redeem herself yet. The third venture was salsa, and again we love restaurant style salsa so it wasn’t that big of a surprise they would try it out, but I don’t think they expected us to go through seven jars in a matter of two or three months! One of my dad’s ingredients was adding our baby green peppers into the mix and I can’t taste it in there, but I love the flavor of the whole thing! One day, my dad literally made salsa and the only container he could put it in was our lemonade/tea pitcher!

As we continue to harvest our goods, the room on our kitchen table keeps getting smaller and smaller, so much so that the side I eat on was very chaotic and full of empty jars and rows of cucumbers would feel overwhelming! In order to solve this problem, especially with storing the jars that haven’t been used yet, we have this old pie storage, it has to be extremely old and completely made up of wood, but it is large enough to hold three or four levels of our stuff to last a few in the colder months, but we might want to control our intake of salsa if we truly want to do this though!


Next month I will have the final post of the garden tour and will talk more about the whole setup, because it has been a massive undertaking for my dad, but I think in a secret way, he really enjoys fixing it up! It will include the original plans, more vegetables, and how we were keeping the cats and other animals out of it.

I hope you are enjoying these posts; I’ve been surprising myself on how much fun it is to write them for you. I used to do these types of posts when my sister was in her first year of college, but thankfully, the photos are in a lot better quality! Anyways, be sure to be on the lookout for that sometime at the end of October.

How you ever pickled anything before? Do you know of any other recipes we should try to make with our vegetables? Please leave everything in the comments below.

snowflake

Book Review: “999: The Extraordinary Young Women of the First Official Jewish Transport to Auschwitz” by Heather Dune Macadam

Hello!

For the past three years, I’ve always ended my reading challenges with a book about the Holocaust. Of course, they were mostly fictionized, but they echo the stories of fellow inmates and survivors of the most infamous camp, Auschwitz. This time I managed to find a book that was on my Goodreads TBR (to be read) and it was free with Kindle Unlimited.

I knew what was getting myself into before I did the one click thingy, but I am never prepared to what would be in front of me with every page. I am always drawn to read about these awful years towards the end of each of my reading challenges. I doubt I’ll ever understand it, but here we are anyways.

WARNING: There are spoilers down below, so you might want to ignore this review today!


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A PEN America Literary Award Finalist
A Goodreads Choice Awards Nominee
An Amazon Best of the Year Selection

The untold story of some of WW2’s most hidden figures and the heartbreaking tragedy that unites them all. Readers of Born Survivors and A Train Near Magdeburg will devour the tragic tale of the first 999 women in Auschwitz concentration camp. This is the hauntingly resonant true story that everyone should know.


On March 25, 1942, nearly a thousand young, unmarried Jewish women, many of them teenagers, boarded a train in Poprad, Slovakia. Believing they were going to work in a factory for a few months, they were eager to report for government service and left their parents’ homes wearing their best clothes and confidently waving good-bye. Instead, the young women were sent to Auschwitz. Only a few would survive. Now acclaimed author Heather Dune Macadam reveals their stories, drawing on extensive interviews with survivors, and consulting with historians, witnesses, and relatives of those first deportees to create an important addition to Holocaust literature and women’s history.

taken from Goodreads.


Despite the evil of it all, this book was really interesting!

“We were nice girls from good families trying to learn how to steal from other nice girls from good families. This was not human. They dehumanized us.”

The author Heather Dune Macadam focuses on the original girls who were taken to Auschwitz in 1942. There are a lot of names and numbers to remember throughout the entire book, but I find it important that you mostly hear these heartbreaking stories from these lovely ladies. These were innocent girls expecting to work for the government (even though it was them who took practically their jobs and everything else before whole families were rounded up!) and end up in hell on Earth in a form of a new camp for anyone and everybody who was an enemy to the Nazis.

The conditions at the camps were downright awful! Each girl and woman was forced to strip their Sunday best, shave their heads, and get tattoos on their arms of their numbers the officers gave them. However, as you go on and learn about the jobs the prisoners vied for on a daily basis, and it wasn’t just the Nazi officers giving orders, it was fellow inmates too. They were offered a series of jobs in Auschwitz, none of them were ideal, some were downright dangerous like dig ditches and lakes in all seasons and temperatures! The women were being fed little unkosher meals, like soup made out of horsemeat and a piece of beard no bigger than a fist. And if that wasn’t enough, they also had to deal with diseases like typhus and sleep in places that were covered in fleas and lice!

And yet, we have survivors….

“Genocide does not simply go away. Just as it can continue to haunt the survivors, it shapes the lives of those who live with and love those survivors.”

As I see what is going on with the world nowadays, seeing Israel and what they are doing to their Palestine communities is another example of the Holocaust, as the Jewish were also kicked out of their homes and made to live in a one room with other families in the ghettos. Israel is an unique country with three main religions: Christians, Judaism and Islam. I used to think this was amazing until I saw what they don’t put on the mainstream news. I wonder how many Jewish people who were in these cocreation camps would support this violence. I think it would be a very low number. And then, we have what is going on with Russia and Ukraine, and you have the same exact story. History is just going to continue to repeat itself over and over again until we find out how to respect each other in our differences, and as much as I’d like to see that happen someday, I doubt it’ll happen in my lifetime and that’s the sad truth to it.

Have you read Heather’s “999: The Extraordinary Young Women in the First Official Jewish Transport to Auschwitz” yet? Do you find yourself interested in books like this one? How do you deal with the sadness they tend to bring us readers?

snowflake