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

Book Review: “If We Were Villains” by M.L. Rio

Hello!

June was a surprisingly good month for my books. I thought I would be about to get through three to four books, but I guess I was reading a lot faster than I originally thought and I managed to finally hit 25 books as we neared the end of it.

When “If We Were Villains” first came out, I was unsure if I’d really be interested in it. I was intrigued by the suspenseful mood but having a big chunk of it built around Shakespeare made me worry since I’ve always had trouble understanding the meaning of what everyone was saying, like most would, but then again, I’m always searching for something like Victoria Helen Stone’s “Jane Doe” and I will admit this book isn’t anywhere near in that direction, but I liked it just as much though.


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Oliver Marks has just served ten years in jail – for a murder he may or may not have committed. On the day he’s released, he’s greeted by the man who put him in prison. Detective Colborne is retiring, but before he does, he wants to know what really happened a decade ago.

As one of seven young actors studying Shakespeare at an elite arts college, Oliver and his friends play the same roles onstage and off: hero, villain, tyrant, temptress, ingenue, extra. But when the casting changes, and the secondary characters usurp the stars, the plays spill dangerously over into life, and one of them is found dead. The rest face their greatest acting challenge yet: convincing the police, and themselves, that they are blameless.

taken from Goodreads.

As the reader, you get to hear both the events that happened in 1999 to a group of students. Four boys and three girls, as they study theatre in college. Everything starts up like it does every day, but then they get their individual requirements for the Halloween show and something changes within the group itself. One character ends up dead and everyone is trying to go on about life, while in the back of their minds, they try to solve who actually killed their friend.

It was just us—the seven of us and the trees and the sky and the lake and the moon and, of course, Shakespeare.

Honestly, it’s a very cliche of “who done it” style of book but I will say it also had a very unique layout. The fact that the author included many Shakespeare references throughout was interesting to me! I got to see how the characters live and breathed William Shakespeare’s plays on a daily basis. You could see each of them act out various characters – sadly I was more focused on how these people would bring them to life as if I could see the show in front of me, and this was a wonderful display of elements. I still had some issues with the dialogue of that time’s way of speaking. I made it through in one piece, but I doubt I will read anything like that for a while. Thanks to this book, I have put both “Macbeth” and “King Lear” on my TBR list!

My true issue was once you made it passed the events that happen after Halloween, everything became very boring, it didn’t pick back up under the final Act, which for a while I wondered if it was worth finishing because it was that bad for me! As I suffered through this section, I tried to figure out who could play each of the characters…

I started hunting when I first started reading but I was thinking of various other actors, and I went with Jamie Campbell Bower as Alexander, Camila Mendes as Filippa, Emilia Clarke as Wren and Sam Claflin as our main Oliver, although I did end up changing my mind toward the end of the story, but I don’t know who the person I saw at that point. Honestly, this was a difficult thing to do because I rarely see a person’s actual face when creating the character’s features, so I could have all of the descriptions an author can give me, and I could still have problems forming them.

Have you read “If We Were Villains” by M.L. Rio yet? If you have, what were your thoughts on it? I’d also like to know who you saw for the important characters down in the comments too.

snowflake

Monthly Favorites | Lovely Words

Hello!

In January, I talked about the fact that I’m keeping a reading journal for 2022, so I have a better way to keep up with what I’m getting into on a daily basis. I keep a note of everything from the number of books I read each month, how many pages I finish, and the days in every month as well. These things are perfectly normal of a regular bookworm, but I took a step further with adding my favorite words, affectionately titled “Lovely Words” as it was an innocent thing to include in my journal at the time. And then, it definitely grew into something I tend to focus a lot of my time because I really enjoy finding new words and looking up what they mean, especially if they are from other languages.

In my ‘Goodreads Reading Challenge’ post, I had shared a collage banner of all of the words that captured my attention during that first month, and it was interesting to see everyone’s comments about this section, but I felt bad for only discussing those 31 words, so when I came up with this series, I thought it would a great idea to include every word from the previous three months. So, I hope you enjoy this batch just as much as I do!


I am arranging each month based on the colors they were given at the start of the year. I know I don’t mention it a lot but I technically have two journals, and for my habit tracker of how many days I actually read, is in a different color. For the most part, I’ve stuck to that color but unfortunately I don’t have an orange and can’t see the yellow very good so I have had to switch those colors around. I know it doesn’t really matter for you, but in case anyone was curious by the color changes with every month.

February:

One thing I do need to explain is, I may have finished three books in February, but I attempted to read about three others, which were The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, The Curse of Beauty by Lauren Lee Merriweather, and Disease and History by Frederick Cartwright. I include ALL of the words, even if I don’t complete the book itself, because honestly that would be too much work to remove them anyways.

daffiance, ensconce, malcontent, recalcitrance, thence, imbue, guardroom, simemet, disir, cuirass, jelling, lamentations, pastureland, petulant, portent, rebuttal, miscarriage, litany, lexicon, trellis, cornucopias, jessamine, compulation, verve, primrose, karanasi, epistle, spiles, consecration, abhors, paraffin, tesserae, sodden, dwarven, loquacious, precipice, hangerook, processional, and gothar.

March:

March as a whole was on another level when it came to reading in general. I managed to complete five books, but I also tried one other book and it was Waylon: Angel and Ruthless Reaper by Theodora Taylor. I did not make it very far with it and I’m pretty sure I did not include any words mentioned in this story. I collected 56 words in all with the others, so a part of me was happy as a clown at this accomplishment!

crug, lain, clowder, centurions, greaves, eldritch, aesir, dour, covart, plait, malcontents, rabble, affright, sheen, pittance, perpendicular, eaves, pommel, dephlane, stalwart, opalsent aloof, salk, seidhr, mirthful, entreat, pennents, somble, vista, thersals, herbcraft, batlements, abate, viste, nettled, sullen, magpielike, spattergroit, transpired, pactiturn, pallor, abussal, skiff, cumbersome, sneer, filligreed, font, spever, pourbiere, grouse, cloudberries, alms, subterfuge, verbena, knattleitir, cloven

PS: Can you tell I read two Viking fiction books or is it just me?

April:

This month I really wanted to finish every book I put in front of myself, but sometimes when I think I’m ready for something else, I end up changing my whole lineup, so with that being said, I attempted to read three romances These Three Words by Alexis Winter, Sexy Filthy Boss by Piper Rayne and Hitching the Cowboy by Kennedy Fox. I’d like to get back with the ones by Alexis and Kennedy because I love how these authors write their characters and couples, but we’ll have to see where in the log they will end up and I’ll definitely write a book review of the Kennedy Fox book as it goes with the bonus post I released over the weekend!

permance, trotting, impertinant, castanets, perambulater, repulsion, roil, Doha, skety, asronyeh, jebnah, ghadoh, adhen, nunu, queer, rapture, gaylingly, heliocentric, counterance, periphery, proviso, rhinophyma, sobriquet, bint, feign, a’arf, ma’amoul, tay’ebeh, khalo, accosts, bedragged, pantomime, caricature, dastardly, smarm, tutelage, chaste, Blomma, trove, frock, minuscule, jester, fawning, hap, debacle, evangelism, entrapped, entendre, omnipresent, sortileges, pedantic, cordinal, gore, woe, croup, prow, lament, sanguinary, revently, morrow, capitally, providence, menagerie, machinations, traipsing, leaflets, liaise, grobing, scantimonious, Veritaserum, simpered, leaves, berks, vying, niffler, lintel,

PS: I read about 18th Century ladies, a Syrian refugee, and Vikings jarls. I traveled a lot in April, thus the many unique words above.


I think I will do like a mid-year review of my progress sometime this summer, because I’d like to compare it with whatever happens in the next six months. I don’t know when I’ll be able to get that one out for you, but I’ll figure out some way though!

How are your reading goals for 2022 going so far? Do you keep a book journal every year to keep track of everything like I am? If you are or have in the past, tell us something about your overall design or what you thought was most important to keep notice of during a single year!

snowflake

Book Review: “Shield-Maiden: Under the Hunter’s Moon” by Melanie Karsak

Hello!

It is time to discuss my thoughts on the second book of “The Road to Valhalla” series by Melanie Karsak. If you have yet to check out how this whole journey started, click here, and you might want to skip this post, so you don’t see any spoilers.


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When the gods play in mortals’ lives, the only certain outcome is uncertainty. Especially when that god is Loki.

In the course of a night, I found out my entire life was a lie. Now, Yrsa, Eydis, and I will set off to recover Tyrfing. I must leave Dalr—and the dream I’d shared with Hofund—behind. Eydis is sure the gods have plans for me. I hope she’s right. For on the distant island of Bolmsö, the last of my father’s line is besieged by enemies, and only the blood of a berserker can make things right again.

taken from Goodreads.

Once I finished the first book, it didn’t necessarily take me long to get into the sequel. The one thing I was a bit worried about was the sheer number of pages it had compared to the other but then I got over it and was able to enjoy the continuation of Hervor’s story.

Some people have never experienced feeling unconditional love from their families, even in the same case as Hervor, as her mother does in fact adore her truly, but she has never been of sense and mind up until the end of the ‘Howling Moon’ and so she has relied on other people for care and protection but now she knows the truth of her parenteral side and she intends to make it known within herself but to others as well. You could look at this in the same way of Jon Snow finding out about his heritage on season six and seven of “Game of Thrones”.

Although the plot is based around Hervor proving herself worthy of others around her, you still have the comical side with characters like Eydis and newcomer Utr. They were a nice separation of the serious events happening all over.

“The gods have surely brought you here, Hervor.”

There was one part of the story, and everyone was getting ready for an upcoming battle, and there was a tiny scene that puzzled me because I wondered if it was plausible for this character–who is fictional I know–to actually know and understand the measures it took on the battle itself. Eydis had explained that she had received a vision of a certain Trojan horse that was moved into the other side’s camp, however it was not hollow on the inside, and everyone was massacred once the ruse broke.

The story of the horse was featured in Homer’s Odyssey and although it is still unclear whether or not the horse even existed, they time the war between Greeks and Troy to be around 1194 to 1184 BC. If you are even more curious to learn about the myth, you can click here. After finishing my research, I went to look into the sagas of Hervor and I found that her story is placed sometime in the 13th Century BC, which is fairly close to the story of the horse, so with that, it seemed like a clever way to connect both sides of history into this series.

Despite all of this, I realized as I was searching for everything that I was just like Hervor in this book. It can be difficult to decipher between myth and truth. There were a lot of speculations who Hervor’s father was in the beginning and it has been interesting for me to wonder about the these two settlements; the Vikings were brutal warriors and ruled the waters with axes, shields, and sheer strength in their bodies plus knowing they will be drinking in the halls with Odin in Valhalla as they dead on the battlefield wasn’t a bad passing, whereas the Greeks lived in massive cities of concrete buildings and sophisticated armor with swords and horse drawn chariots. I mean, certain parts of history do have a way of repeating itself.

I never meant to doubt Melanie’s information or overall work, but from the moment I read that paragraph, I found it odd but then of course I let it fester in my head as I continued reading and knew I would eventually look everything up to my curious heart’s content and that’s what happened. I feel better and pleased to learn more about how our ancient selves lived, and thought you, if you are like me and love history, would appreciate the insight too!

Have you read ‘Under the Hunter’s Moon’ by Melanie Karsak yet? If you have, what were your favorite parts of it?

snowflake

Blogmas: Gift Ideas for Readers

Hello!

For this year, I will be discussing for the reader(s) in your life, because we can be somewhat tricky to buy for on Christmas. I hope to give you some ideas below and this week on Got Meghan’s Blog is full of festive vibes, so I also hope you enjoy what I have for you because I had a lot of fun creating them!

A couple of years ago, I wrote a post discussing interesting topics for my fellow disabled and chronic illness bloggers out there. I thought it would be a great idea to create one of my own and there was awesome feedback from people with and without disabilities! Anyways, I still adore the way I set up that post and wanted to do it again to hopefully give you some ideas into what a reader would REALLY love under their Christmas tree or stocking this year!


Before we get too into this, I need to make a point and say, if you decide to do any of the ideas below, you should know the person treasures the most. Despite the fact I included Harry Potter, it doesn’t mean EVERYONE enjoys that series! There are thousands of fandoms and products out there so hopefully you’ll be able to find something they love, but also be honest with yourself as well. If you can’t get something because you can’t afford it at this moment, find something else and hopefully they will understand your struggle and move on from it.

Speaking of money, I arranged everything below into their own category as far as price goes, so we have a somewhat cheaper collection of items that don’t go over $25. The middle will have a selection that could change depending on the various qualities and websites; I’d say they might start at $30 and stop around $60 and then the final box is everything I feel can go into the $100+ and those would be things that you would expect in that range too.

Easy on the Budget

Bookmarks
Stickers
Candles
Fairy lights
Coffee Mugs
Teabags/Instant Coffee Cups
Cat Inspired Gifts (or any other animal!)
Earbuds/Headphones

The Prices Can Change

Book Ends
Throw Blankets
Journals
Calendars
Bluetooth Speakers
Harry Potter Items
E-Readers (like NOOK, Kindle, and Audible)

Get Your Checkbooks Out

Book Subscription Boxes (like Book Of The Month, OwlCrate, etc.)
Limited Edition Books
Boxed Sets
Childhood Favorites
Bookshelves

Last summer, I was able to work with a company that specialty is making unique bookmarks and holders, and they are TILIMSA and I really love their products. They are reasonably priced since all of the items are handmade. I’m still so happy they were nice enough to work with someone like me who doesn’t exactly hold a book in the way everybody else does, so they customized their regular items to fit my needs, however, I’m not sure if everyone will be able to get the same treatment. If you are trying to find something for someone with a disability who loves to read, you could try to get into contact with them but again, I’m not sure if it will happen, so please keep this possibility in mind beforehand.

Are there any other ‘bookish’ products I should add to this post? Comment below with your suggestions, plus which money category I need to list it too!