10 Books for Women’s History Month!

Hello!

I don’t normally do these types of posts based on the books I’ve read, mainly because I am notoriously picky. I am awful at it! You should see how I react when I create my favorite books of the year. I always end up enjoying the overall post but making that list is always a hurdle. How are you with choosing your favorites? Does it cause you as much stress as me?

Despite this, I wanted to give you an array of books to check out in the future. I have five books for fiction and nonfiction readers. I wanted you to have a choice – I’d also like to say, you should at least try one of them because you might be surprised in the end.

Now that is done, let’s start on the nonfiction, shall we?


I am a HUGE fan of nonfiction, and oddly enough I enjoy reading about women the most. I love the story behind these legendary people, but I can also be very stubborn when it comes to reading nonfiction in general. Sometimes nonfiction can be a little boring, which is why I don’t have as many books as I’d like to! I tend to lose interest quickly, because I am so used to have an exciting story line that I just skim through it unfortunately. However, all of the books I’ve listed below were part of the lucky bunch because I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about these ladies, my sisters in history.

Women of Scotland by Helen Susan Swift

This is more of a reference book, as it goes through centuries of women living in Scotland. I actually did enjoy myself, it helped me tremendously to feel some pride for my Scottish roots, which is exactly why I bought it in the first place. I didn’t want to hear about William Wallace or Robert the Bruce, I wanted to know about my aunts and sisters instead. I wish there were books like this focusing on the women in every country. It would truly help other modern women like me, who we are and how we can grow out of society’s expectation of women in general.

One of my favorite women included in the book was Helen Gloag. She was a strong and independent woman, who unfortunately got caught and was sadly sold into slavery in Morocco, until she was presented to the sultan of that time and was made his wife, plus Empress of Morocco. Sadly, after her husband dies, she is removed from her position, she is banished and disappears completely. I thought her story was amazing, as she wasn’t necessarily forced into the marriage as she was allowed to do many things like write to her family in Scotland.

Anne Boleyn: 500 Years of Lies by Hayley Nolan

I am a royalist, and big supporter of Anne Boleyn–on my quest to find out why the late Queen Elizabeth II was labeled with those doubled I’s really compelled me to spend a chunk of my late teens and early twenties researching the first Queen Elizabeth and the rest of the Tudor dynasty.

Once I got my answers, I became a true fan (seems weird to use that here!) of her as a person. And after chickening out multiple times, I finally got my feet on this book last year and it was a very interesting read; everything I learned from 2008 to probably 2016, was basically up in the air because the author Hayley introduced new things that we wouldn’t normal associate with the medieval royals, like instead of Henry VIII being in love with Anne Boleyn and vice versa, you have reasons to believe he might’ve had a mental illness. She describes him being a sociopath, and it was so odd on how fast my point of view flipped because it does sound like a logical answer to his mood swings, he didn’t have any empathy for others, especially his family including his wives and daughters.

For me though, I enjoyed seeing Anne Boleyn as an innocent bystander, because she was. What a king wants, he’ll usually get it. If you said no to the king, you could be accused of treason. I don’t think Anne had a choice in this “love” fest. However, once she was made Queen, she didn’t just sit around with her ladies, she had a couple of jobs to do, and that was continuing of the progress of The Reformation and the care of her baby girl, the future Elizabeth I.

The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold

In 2020, I discovered this book, and early on I remembered wondering what the hell I had gotten myself into, because I knew it would be gruesome to hear about how each woman was killed, but it also opened a very small hole into their lives, and I think that was the hardest part for me.

Whenever I read books like this, I always feel awful mainly for the loss of the person and their families. I am an empath and so I tend to feel things harder, but I was interested in the reasons why these women were on the streets late at night, when they should have known there was a menacing person killing women in odd ways. I enjoyed their life stories and seeing some of their happy times with their families in the Victorian era, and that’s what I chose to focus my attention on.

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

Another similar book was one I had read a few months ago.

This was about the first bunch of women who were taken to Auschwitz in 1942. These were women between the ages of 17 to 50, from Poland, Slovak, Czech Republic, Hungary to the second concertation camp in Poland, called Auschwitz-Birkenau.

The author Heather had interviewed array of former inmates on their experiences inside the camp. What they were made to do every single day, rain or shine, hot or cold. They were also given very little food, and they were infected by diseases and tests by German doctors. It was hell on earth for these people.

Again, like the The Five, it was full of sadness obviously, but once the camp was liberated in 1945, many of the women made their way home to find their homes and remaining family members, unfortunately many were met with devasting results, but some didn’t lose all of their hope for a future. Survivors would marry other people who were in neighboring camps, and have families, but with this a lot of them wouldn’t talk about their stories at the hands of the Nazis. So, their children and grandchildren were left without knowing about their families before and after World War II ended.

Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter by Kate Clifford Larson

Rosemary was the older sister of President John F. Kennedy and politicians Robert Kennedy and Ted Kennedy. Rosemary was born with her disability, as there was a complication when her mother Rose was in labor. I’ve heard many stories of newborns getting stuck and sometimes they can develop mental disabilities afterwards. Rosemary had been affected in some way, and she was learning slower than her siblings. I was struck with the fact that she could had autism, just with what Kate was able to share in the book.

Here was this fairly large, important family, chasing the dream to be a part of America’s greatness: working for the government. You learn quickly that she is a liability to the entire Kennedy “perfect” image, and she was sent off to various schools and her parents wanted to make the best of their situation. One of my favorite parts in the book is when Rose takes her older daughters: Rosemary, Kathleen and Eunice for dresses to wear for meeting the King George V and Queen Mary in 1938. I found this section particularly sweet because she seemed to enjoyed dancing and meeting the king and queen as well.

And then, her father Joe makes the decision for Rosemary to have a lobotomy. At this point in history, and medical practice, a lobotomy was supposed to be a godsend to families in similar situations, to gain back some normalcy and hopefully cure their children from any and all imperfections like a mental illness. This action creates havoc in any progress Rosemary was making in her life, as she was never the same again. The one thing I’d like to point out is that I believe Joe and Rose tried their best in raising Rosemary, but they were too obsessed with what could happen if anybody outside of their bubble knew about Rosemary as a person.


I love historical, biographical books, especially when the subject is about women. As someone who has never been able to fit in with other girls, I naturally crave the knowledge of these powerful females in history. Although it’s mostly fictional, some feelings and themes are in fact real, like, limited to no rights for women, slavery, becoming a refugee in another country, they all exist throughout our history, and it’s incredible to see these obscure women come to the front so that maybe we can learn something through the author’s words.


What Passes As Love by Trisha R. Thomas

Do you ever go looking for your next read and see something, read the blurb and decide to leave it be, but is haunted by it afterwards? What Passes as Love was that book for me in 2021. I remember looking at it and thinking it could be the one to draw me out of my mini slump, but I still vetoed it. It took me 12 hours to go back for it and I think I read the whole thing in less than a week. I was that devoted to Dahlia and her story.

Dahlia is a unique individual, as she is treated like a slave on a plantation but is able to live in her owner/father’s house with the rest of the family. Dahlia has endured a lot, and one day she makes a choice that she cannot go back on, and that’s running away from her home. She can get by with it because of the color of her skin, as she doesn’t particularly look most slaves, and this ruse works in her favor when she discovers two gentlemen making their way out of the city, but she is not safe with them. They can still hand her over to authorities, but she vows to never go back there again.

The Duchess by Danielle Steel

It still cracks me up that I was able to read not one, but TWO books while I was staying in a nursing home last October. It was a result of my dad needing to have surgery and my mom and I knew that if I had stayed at home in the days following the surgery, something bad would have happened, so we chose this opinion because it had worked in the past.

I managed to find both Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie and The Duchess by Danielle Steel and I thoroughly enjoyed each of these books, but The Duchess was definitely my favorite as it discusses a woman who was raised as a daughter of a duke, but after her father passed away, she is basically ousted by her older half-brother and as a young woman in the Regency era, there were not a lot of opportunities for her. She didn’t know how to be anything, and that was the point to this opposition. However, she finds a job as a nanny, but it’s what happens after leaving them that things take a sudden turn and becomes a madam at a luxury brothel in France. This was one of two twists to the story that I did NOT see coming but enjoyed nonetheless!

Jane Doe by Victoria Helen Stone

Women are assuming to be modest, meek and obedient; it has been passed down through the generations of what the perfect women is to be, but sometimes we don’t like staying in love with all of these rules, and once that happens, we are called names like crazy. Husbands, brothers, fathers and sons have put their own mothers, sisters in asylums because of their ericaite behaviors.

Victoria Helen Stone’s “Jane Doe” is a modern way of seeing a sociopath as a woman. We are not immune to this condition as many would believe, and honestly, I seriously wonder how long we’ve suffered through it in history. This was the main reason why I wanted to include it into this post.

I have never been interested in suspense thrillers, until I found this book and I’ve been hooked ever since. My mom was very proud of me because I was discovering how good these types of books are, but honestly, I adored the character, Jane. She was so lifelike, and I now find that quality terrifying! Anyways, if you’d like to look inside the mind of a woman, better yet a mentally unstable woman, this is the book for you. However, I need to mention I wasn’t really into the second “Problem Child” but it might for others as Jane is searching for her long-lost niece and they find out they have something else in common than their blood.

Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga

I love to watch a lot of Muslim YouTubers like Leena Snoubar of With Love, Leena and her sisters Amanda and Loren. I also like to watch Jaserah from SimplyJaserah and Saima her channel hasn’t been very active lately, but I love watching her past videos too!

Today, is the start of Ramadan, so if you are Islam out there, Ramadan Mubarek! For those of you who do not know, it is a holiday that celebrates fasting and prayers to Allah or God. As someone that enjoys learning about cultures and history, being interested in Ramadan and Eid shouldn’t surprise me or anyone close to me.

Last year I wanted to dictate myself to at least one book that discusses Islam in general, and as I was searching on Kindle Unlimited, I found this little gem and I was so happy. This is a children’s book written in verse about a young girl who has to leave her home and family in Syria, before the war actually started there in 2011. Jude and her mother make it to her uncle’s American home, with her aunt and cousin and she goes to school and live her life in this alien world, and it is very heartbreaking, but it also shows us how children are resilient in their environments.

I know it isn’t about history like Jane Doe, but families have been immigrating to other places all around the world for centuries, so it isn’t a new thing we’re doing, but you get to see the life of a young Syrian girl who would have loved to stay at home, but her parents secretly knew for her safety, it needed to be done and it makes you remember Anne Frank and her life in hiding in Amerstdam in 1942. The reason has never changed, just the people and circumstances.

Queen Boudicca by Melanie Karsak

I talk about Melanie Karsak a lot, but I truly love her books and the characters she creates for her fans. This is a series I don’t normally talk about, even though I actually enjoyed it. I haven’t read the second book yet but I’m hoping to before or after the third and final book comes out this summer.

This follows a young Boudicca before she becomes one of the legendary Queens of ancient Britain. I have heard of Boudicca before, but I didn’t want to know much going into it. I like to start off with a clean slate you know. There are a lot of characters in Princess Boudicca’s life and they are massive and strange, but nothing I haven’t heard before. My favorites were the head priestess Don and healer Ulla. For some odd reason I pictured Yelena of the Northuldra people in Frozen II as Don and I feel she quite fits her as she is a stern and noble woman while Gramma in Moana, was for Ulla because she had that mischief attitude about her.

I’m sorry I wasn’t able to get this list out for you sooner, but you have two weeks before the month ends, and I think you’ll find something on my list to inspire you after the month ends. I believe we should celebrate women every day of the year because there’s a lot that we do, and it’s nice to feel proud of who you are on a regular basis, right?

How d you celebrate Women’s History Month? What kind of books would you recommend for this post? Give me your top three in the comments!

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Book Review: “The Tattooist of Auschwitz” by Heather Morris

Hello!

So, this is my first official book review of 2023.

If you are somewhat familiar with my routine when it comes to books, I tend to leave anything to do with the Holocaust to the end of the list. I mainly do it because I’d rather not start off the new year with really emotional books, although I’ve had no problem with ones that discuss disability, so think about that for a minute… I definitely don’t regret it because I totally obsessed with this story, but I probably should have planned a little better for it as I was always drained after finishing a couple of chapters.


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A tale based on interviews that were conducted with Holocaust survivor and Auschwitz-Birkenau tattooist Ludwig (Lale) Sokolov.

In April 1942, Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew, is forcibly transported to the concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau. When his captors discover that he speaks several languages, he is put to work as a Tätowierer (the German word for tattooist), tasked with permanently marking his fellow prisoners.

Imprisoned for over two and a half years, Lale witnesses horrific atrocities and barbarism—but also incredible acts of bravery and compassion. Risking his own life, he uses his privileged position to exchange jewels and money from murdered Jews for food to keep his fellow prisoners alive.

One day in July 1942, Lale, prisoner 32407, comforts a trembling young woman waiting in line to have the number 34902 tattooed onto her arm. Her name is Gita, and in that first encounter, Lale vows to somehow survive the camp and marry her.

taken from Goodreads.

This book has been on my TBR (to be read) since it came out in 2018. As sad as it, I do have a weakness for books that discuss World War II/Holocaust, but I was ultimately intrigued about the cover –which usually happens, I will always be pulled into a novel because of a captivating cover design. For this story though and based on my knowledge of the people who were imprisoned at Auschwitz-Birkenau, they did not have any hair. It was shaved off once they arrived at the camps in a way to cut down on diseases within the blocks; I always found odd because why would the Nazis care about that if they wanted to get rid of the Jews in the first place. However, once you begin reading this book you will understand why this could happen in the camps.

He, too, has chosen to stay alive for as long as he can, by performing an act of defilement on people of his own faith.

Lale as a whole was an interesting main character, he was a different person compared to what I’ve read about in other books, as he always seemed calm in difficult parts. Of course, he was angry with the Germans, their mythology and everything else. You also get a chance to see Lale as a normal guy in the better part of the 1940’s and how he thoroughly enjoyed being and working around women he was acquainted with on a daily basis, but not in a creepy way though. When you begin reading, you are able to see pieces of his life prior to arriving at the Auschwitz-Birkenau camps and see how much he respects his mother and I really enjoyed seeing those scenes play out, everything he did with Gita and the other ladies in the camps was lovely and he seemed to make sure to treat them as women outside of the war and Holocaust in general.

This book is the first in a trilogy, as the next book discusses a character mentioned in this story, her name is Cilka, and she is a fascinating person because she was a favorite to one of the generals of the camp. I may end up reading that one later on in the year, but it’ll depend on how long I will be interested in these types of books. Honestly, I hope I can get out of it before spring, but until then I’ll be going with the flow.

Have you read “The Tattooist of Auschwitz” by Heath Morris yet? If you have, what were your thoughts about it?

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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?

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Book Review: “The German Midwife” by Mandy Robotham

Well, here we are!

This is my last book review to be included in my “20 Books In 2020” reading challenge. I saw this one day while I was scrolling through KU and something about the cover just made me click it and read the blurb, and once I did that I was instantly intrigued with the concept. What if Evan Braun had had a child? This question would play with me while I was reading and after I had finished it.

If you are interested in historical fiction, especially if it is set in the depths of World War II with all of its ugly history dealing with an evil dictator like Adolf Hitler and of course with the aftermath of the Holocaust and its survivors. There are very few times that a book itself would read like if you were sitting in a movie theater watching it on the biggest screen and the volume blasted as loud as it can to pull you into it ever more.


51X-kIIkghLAn enthralling new tale of courage, betrayal and survival in the hardest of circumstances that readers of The Tattooist of Auschwitz, The Secret Orphan and My Name is Eva will love.

Germany, 1944. A prisoner in the camps, Anke Hoff is doing what she can to keep her pregnant campmates and their newborns alive.

But when Anke’s work is noticed, she is chosen for a task more dangerous than she could ever have imagined. Eva Braun is pregnant with the Führer’s child, and Anke is assigned as her midwife.

Before long, Anke is faced with an impossible choice. Does she serve the Reich she loathes and keep the baby alive? Or does she sacrifice an innocent child for the good of a broken world?


When I first started reading it on July 20th, my only note I put on the status update on Goodreads was “On chapter 6 and it’s already a doozy!” I am familiar with the hardships that the Jews dealt with during their time either hiding from the SS soldiers and being starved and worked to death in various camps all over Europe. While I was in high school, I took a course called “Novels” and we read Elie Weisel’s Night. This was the first time I ever read a book about a survivor’s time in the concertation camps and I literally thought I would never read a book from that time period ever again.

After reading about Enjeela and Malala’s stories escaping their war-torn homelands earlier this year, I figured I couldn’t necessarily talk myself out of not reading a book set in this time frame.

Our main character Anke Hoff, is the everyday woman in the mid-1940’s, she was young but trapped in the gray area of being a German but not supporting Adolf Hitler and The Reich. She was also helping all women–including Jewish–give birth to their children. The story is given to you in two different parts, so you begin with the character about Irena, a Jewish woman giving birth in a crowded and nasty hut full of other women, including Anke and her helper Rosa. You learn about the ins and outs of bringing a baby into the world and how Jewish babies were stripped away from their mothers and put to death for all to hear in the camp.

The second part of the story are these diary-like entries, they include dates and estimated locations. These tell the story of Anke’s life before ending up in the camps. You get to see everything that happens within a hospital before the war erupted and how she is captured by the Gestapo and eventually sent to a camp. At first, this section was my least favorite because I thought it would be too much information for the reader, including myself to separate while reading about her current living situation. However, it was in this part that talked about how the Nazi doctors and officials treated babies with physical disabilities. This is the reason why in my first note I said “it was a doozy” because I wasn’t necessarily expecting it, but while I was sad to learn what would happen to this innocent babies, it really gave me a sense of who Anke was as not only a midwife but a human being at this time.

In a way to luminate that Anke is a regular woman, the author set up a love interest, and I will be honest, I wasn’t much of a fan for it in the beginning, but when we learn more about Dieter Stenz, the quicker I was willing to overlook my initial reaction to him. As the story was ending and we learn what happens to him, my emotions were all over the place! It also didn’t help that this was the final book in my Goodreads challenge for the year. If you didn’t know by now, I finished 20 books in eight months!

The final thing I enjoyed about this story was that the author Mandy Robotham, is actually a real midwife. This made me really happy to learn this in the beginning because I knew she would include anything she has learned throughout her medical schooling and career as a midwife too. It also made me realize that everything that was discussed about childbirth inside the camps and domestic life in the 1930’s and 40’s could be true in some form despite the fact that the story is fictionalized. So, if you are interested in learning about midwifery, enjoy reading historical fiction and/or a good ‘what if’ kind of story, then you will love this book; if you decide to read it, please let me know your thoughts about it.

If you have read Mandy Robotham’s first novel “The German Midwife” or “A Woman Of War” as it was titled in the United Kingdom? What were your thoughts about Anke Hoff’s story? 

snowflake

 

#FWF – The Beginning Of The End

Hello and Happy Good Friday! I actually got to sleep in this morning and so if you start to see some sentences not making any sense, just bear with me. As soon as I saw today’s Free Write Friday prompt I thought I was going to jump for joy. I don’t know why but destruction prompts are somewhat fun and can be easy sometimes to write about too. Even if you don’t like these kinds of prompts, you can still change it up a bit. This image is copyrighted so you’re going to have to click here, if you want to see the image.  I hope you all enjoy!

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It all sounded like a really bad storm. Like a tornado had whipped through our little city and tore it to pieces. The power was gone, the wind was gone, but the sun was still out as bright as it could be. When we started hearing screams, cries, and heavy knocks at different doors, we ran for our shelter house door and peaked a look at what was going on. My uncle had tried to see what all the fuss was about by actually going outside, we tried to get him to stay inside but he was too drunk already to stay inside. Once my dad and grandpa opens those doors, he stumbled up those narrow stairs and as soon as he was in the clear of the way of the doors, they closed him again. We all stood there in silence, wondering how everything was going to play out. At first it was quiet, you could hear little talk from the outside, but not very much. Next minute we started to hear every voice on our block stop talking within five minutes of themselves like a Gen. Sargeant had went and commanded them to shut up. Even Uncle Boris’ voice was gone. We knew that wouldn’t be an easy thing considering when he’s drunk, he’s the life of the party. Next thing we heard was a sworn of bees flying over us, high up in the air. We were all scared down in the shelter of what that noise could be, but we stayed quietly in our places until it stopped completely.

When the time was right and Uncle Boris never returned back, my dad and grandfather, grabbed their hunting gear and rifle guns and told us all to as far back into the shelter house as possible. Which means, they wanted us to use the tunnels. Our family has been here for centuries and according to legend, at the end of these tunnels sources say that there are others making their way to other states. We would be a long journey, but we’ve been told by stories that it was well worth it. When my dad gave these orders, my mom and Aunt Sally, gathered all of the kids including me, which I thought I could be a bigger help by staying with them, but they forbid it because they needed somebody old enough to protect everybody else. “Come on, Olivia! Let’s go!” Aunt Sally yelled as my mother and my brothers and cousins were already heading down the tunnels. I was such a daddy’s girl that I didn’t want to leave him and grandpa behind to fend for themselves but I didn’t want to disobey them either so I gave them both a hug and ran over to the tunnel door and climbed in. Lucky for me, I am such a tomboy that I could hear my cousins complaining about the dirt and roots getting into their hair and clothes. It didn’t mind me, but as soon as Aunt Sally was in, the doors from the outside world were gone and the lights entering the tunnels came on. One by one we crawled into the underground in search of our next hideout. We knew that they would follow us but we didn’t know how it would take them to explore what happened to our neighbors.

We entered our first rest stop, All of us were exhausted, we had been crawling on our knees for about two hours. In every storm, mama goes and put out bottled water in the hideaway pockets of the tunnels just in case. They get changed out every three months in case the water was to spill overtime or get bad from being around the dirt, bugs, and roots. We had less than amount of water for all of us, but we made do because we only needed a little bit before we reached our destination. After our nice little break, we tuckered onward and I hadn’t even taken a few steps before the ground started to shake violently. Dirt was falling over head and we were all praying that the tunnels didn’t collapse on us as we scooted over them. After it was over, we just stood in our places for five to ten seconds and moved on. A little bit of an hour later, we had each the other end of the tunnel into another old family home. Once we were inside the basement, we locked the tunnel door and went silently up the stairs. We all kept our guards up in case there were any strangers inside the house, but our grandfather keeps the house very clean and comfortable in case we’d have to use it like right now. All around the house were blankets, pillows, and clothes by the dozen like he was about to go on a big camping trip. Aunt Sally and my mother went into the kitchen and collected as much food and water as they could, I kept walking around the big slightly empty house, it didn’t have windows he had them dark to make it look like the house was abandoned and unusable. Every room in that house was dark except for the first room by the living room. He kept that room covered in blinds and drapes. I decided to look inside and saw the stuff everything on the floor, big books of maps and drawings of different things. Grandpa was a thinker and thought about everything, he was a news story junkie. As I was going through his stuff, I kept hearing noises from outside.

The noises weren’t normal, as it’s generally a quiet neighborhood but this was strange noises like crowds of people on both ends of the block directing people from that entire area to be inspected. I gently put my hands up against the blinds to help see out and everybody had red faces and tears streaming down their cheeks. My oldest cousin Jan came in and went to the other window next to me and got a glimpse of the chaos outside. “Liv, what’s going on out there?” Jan said as he just stared out and watched his friends and their families walking in a line to the top of the line. They watched Jan’s best friend Sean and his family get to the front of the line and they went up the men in gas masks and heavy skin gear, either this was a government cleanse or it was for something much worse. When Sean got examined by the “doctor” he looked scared and worried because the kid had asthma, when he man asked him to take a deep breath he had to take out his inhaler in case he’d go into an attack and when he reached for his pocket, the guards behind me got antsy and saw it as a threat and shot him in the back of the head. “NO!” Jan shouted out the window. I grabbed him and pulled him down and away from the windows. He was crying and wanting to scream for his friend. I covered his mouth and shushed him but the guards had heard him yell and I could hear gun click outside and we both stood up quickly and the windows and walls started to explode ad bullets came from different directions. Jan’s little sisters started screaming and my brothers grabbed them and directed them back into the basement for safety. Aunt Sally and my mother was just trying to get money out of the safe in back room so they didn’t hear us screaming and the guns firing at us. When they both came out of the kitchen, the bullets were still coming out of the front of the house and then all I saw was blood and their bodies collapsed onto the floor. I knew I had to get my family back into the tunnels.

Olivia didn’t want to tell her brothers and cousins that their mothers were dead, because they wouldn’t stay by her side and then get killed like them. She assigned everyone to a different gear that they needed to get through the next part of their journey, because this one would be longer than the first. She pulled Jan aside and he was still wiping away his tears with his skinny arm, she hugged him tightly and asked him if he would go behind the younger ones. Jan looked at her and nodded, not even asking about his mom or aunt. “Maybe we’ll get lucky and our dads and grandpa are already there at the compound.” Olivia said trying to brighten his spirits a little bit. After seeing Sean get shot and then our mothers, seeing how all three males come meet us at the compound would have to be a big miracle. When I heard the people talking upstairs I knew it was time to get the hell out of there. I switched roles with Jan and he led the younger ones in first and I climbed in and shut the door behind. It was completely dark for five seconds and then the lights switched on to help guide us into the long journey.

Two hours and three breaks later, we had reached our next spot. Another relative of ours that knew about the tunnels had his family in their underground house, which it didn’t matter what you called it, it was still a cave nevertheless. Dennis, another uncle of ours and a big number of our family members helped getting us out of the tunnel. Jan and the kids enjoyed seeing some familiar faces after such a long and hard journey. When I managed to get out of the tunnel Uncle Dennis looked at me with a worried look on his face. “Where’s your guys parents and grandpa?” he asked his oldest niece, but she took him aside and told him what had happen. He started to break down inside but forbid himself to show his emotions to his nieces and nephews. “The world has been taken over. There’s nothing much left except for the ones that were appointed by the government to inspect its people.” Uncle Dennis said to Olivia. “I don’t think it’s anything to do with the government.” Olivia said to me, as everybody around them started to surround them. “They were killing people in cold blood. I’m starting to think it’s World War II all over again.” Olivia said back to him. Which made everybody nervous inside the core of the cave.