Category Archives: Germany

Blog Tour: Hadamar – The House of Shudders by Jason K. Foster

Hadamar – The House of Shudders by Jason K. Foster

Publisher: Big Sky Publishing
Publication Date: 1 May, 2019
Australian RRP: $17.50

Nazi Germany is ruled by Hitler’s barbaric policies of racial cleansing. Ingrid Marchand’s only sin was to be born black.

Horrifying institutions like Hadamar are where the undesirables – including the mentally and physically disabled and children – are systematically tortured, gassed and executed. It is where Ingrid is humiliated and brutalised and will encounter a depth of hatred the world has never seen before.

On the brink of starvation, can Ingrid survive the horrors of her incarceration and help bring her tormentors to justice?

Hadamar is a gripping tale of survival in a world of hatred, horror and insanity.

Buy at: booktopia  |  boomerang  | dymocks  | iBooks  |  QBD  | googleBig Sky Publishing

My Blurb (3.5/5 stars)

If there’s a Heaven, I think I deserve a place in it. If there’s a Hell, it couldn’t possibly be worse than where I’ve already been. If there’s nothingness… then at least I will be able to forget, and finally find some measure of peace.

Those few sentences at the beginning of this novel indicate just how horribly wrong things are going to be in this novel. It was voiced by a much older Ingrid Marchand, the protagonist of this novel, and it is a precursor to her story of living through hell on earth.

I think I’ve read my share of WWII stories and yet… I find this perspective (a teenage girl with German-French-Senegalese ancestry who was placed in a psychiatric hospital just because of the colour of her skin) to be quite unique. I felt the premise to be promisingly enlightening and at the same time, will be heartbreaking. Needless to say, Ingrid’s story was utterly harrowing.

It is absolutely terrifying just how monstrous people can be. I’m sure everyone has heard some of the atrocities committed in this war yet there’s always new discoveries that takes all the air out of your lungs. There were no saints in this novel. Indeed, all these people are so very human complete with flaws (including Ingrid). I found that is what I particularly liked about this novel; all these characters feel real & three-dimensional to me.

What I’m not sure and not quite keen about is the insta-love feel in one part of the story. I absolutely understand her reaction and her behaviour in consequence of it BUT is it necessary? I’m guessing that this was the only way the author could think of to make her seem just like any other teen despite all the bad things she’s seen & lived through. I also felt that the whole thing didn’t quite round up neatly for me; it felt off & messy.

My next wish was there to be some sort of author’s note to explain which part of the story is real (since it’s based on true events) and which he made up. Plus why Hadamar Euthanasia Centre (“House of Shutters”) inspired him to write this story. I think all historical fiction novels should have this at the end of the book. If you’re curious (like me), here’s a Wikipedia entry for this particular place and there are photos of the place and some historical personages.

Overall, this novel was quite easy to read (language-wise but not emotion-wise) and I found it hard to put down because I really wanted to get to the part where Ingrid is finally safe! But I did have to put it down because reading one bad things after another, I really needed a break for my own sake. I am glad that someone has written a novel to remember this particular part of history – those who died there deserved to be remembered. So, do read this for them but only after you’ve prepared yourself to accept that humanity is capable of some ghastly things.

Thanks to Big Sky Publishing for copy of book in exchange of honest review. And thanks, AusYABloggers for organising the tour.

Find all the other stops by following the Tour Schedule 

About the author

Jason Foster is an author, poet, freelance journalist and high school teacher. He holds a Bachelor of Arts (Communications) and Graduate Diploma in Teaching from WSU as well as a Master of Arts (History) from Macquarie University and a Diploma in Spanish from Macquarie University.

Jason is widely travelled having spent time in five continents and over fifty countries. He has taught in Australia, the United Kingdom, Spain and Argentina; experiences that bring a distinct range and unique world view to his writing.

He has published ten books in the true crime, history and young adult genres. He has also been published the world over with his work appearing in a range of mediums from History magazines in the United States, Australian travel magazines and Poetry Anthologies in the United Kingdom.

Find Jason on: goodreads  |  website

Review: The Golden Braid

the golden braidThe Golden Braid by Melanie Dickerson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Source: eARC courtesy of publisher

After Bitter Greens, I needed a lighter retelling of Rapunzel and this fits the bill so well. Rapunzel is a very capable girl especially noting the medieval setting. She hungered for knowledge though she’s yet to learn to read. She hasn’t had the opportunity so far because she and her mother have moved many times but mostly from village to village. This time, however, they are moving to a large city where Rapunzel hopes there will be a better chance in finding someone to teach her to read.

I don’t usually read Christian fiction and I’m not sure whether I realised this was one when I first requested it off NetGalley but it has been a very interesting experience. Whilst I quite enjoyed the read and am touched by Rapunzel’s simple piety; I was mostly struck by the frequency of prayers. This is probably due to my irregular prayers so really, this proves to be a good encouragement for me to pray more often.

The Golden Braid is a lovely retelling of Rapunzel. She’s definitely not an insipid fool but brave, accomplished, and fairly intelligent. There were moments of frustration where I thought she was blind but truly, her upbringing was very sheltered and it takes time to learn of the world. This is a good wholesome and romantic novel suitable for teens aged 13 and up.

Thanks Thomas Nelson for eARC via NetGalley in exchange of honest review

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Review: The Beast’s Garden

the beasts gardenThe Beast’s Garden by Kate Forsyth
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: eARC courtesy of publisher via NetGalley

I loved Beauty by Robin McKinley and I adore Kate Forsyth so I thought that The Beast’s Garden would be a wonderful magical retelling. Despite the horribleness of the setting (I meant the nasty gruesome war rather than the actual place), I thought that this would be an excellent foil for Beauty’s courage and generosity. In the end, whilst I have very much enjoyed the story, I’d say that The Beast’s Garden is inspired by (rather than a retelling of) ‘The Singing, Springing Lark’, the Grimm Brothers’ version of Beauty and The Beast.

‘The Singing, Springing Lark’ is quite a bit different than the well-known tale of Beauty and The Beast and if you know your literature, you’d know that Grimm Brothers’ version will be much darker. This means that our heroine must be very determined, intelligent, brave, and persistent in order to win a life with her love. Ava was young but bounteous in courage. Her courage carried her to Leo, sustained her through turbulent times, and brought her to her destined future.

It’s very clear that Kate Forsyth has done her research and I loved knowing that most characters are real historically (the exception being Ava & Leo and their family). The novel was just intricately woven together into a seamlessly stunning love story amidst destruction. It’s just like how that red rose on the cover stands out! My only grievance was the lack of magic. I’ve always associated Kate Forsyth with magic and I kept expecting something magical to pop up but aside from some hint of the gypsy, I drew a complete blank.

The Beast’s Garden has a lot to offer the readers. The friendships cultivated by Ava were true and lasting. Both Ava and Leo were bound by a force neither could fight off and by embracing love, they found a little safe haven in a dark world. As with all war fiction, you’d always wonder how you yourself will act and we are shown just how courageous some can be in fighting for humanity whilst others sought only to destroy. A smashing read and highly recommended to historical fiction fans.

Thanks to Random House Australia via NetGalley for eARC in exchange of honest review

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