Tag Archives: #worldwar2

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: Ambulance Girls

Ambulance Girls by Deborah Burrows
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Source: Paperback copy courtesy of publisher

Ever since I fell completely in adoration of Deborrah Burrows’ last book, A Time of Secrets a couple of years ago, I’ve been waiting for another book. And while I was waiting, I kinda stalk her on Goodreads and twitter so I knew she’s been traipsing (sorry, researching) all over London when living there. I greeted the cover reveal of Ambulance Girls with a squeal of excitement and I think my heart might have stopped for mo when I received a copy in the mail.

Firstly, I do love this cover and I really like war historical fiction especially when this particular book’s main character was inspired by a real life historical Aussie woman serving in the London Auxiliary Ambulance Station during the Blitz. There were a lot of things I learnt from this novel about women during the Blitz. I guess there have been quite a number of books or even documentaries but the way it was written here made it all the more real to me. It was obvious that a lot of research was done in the writing of this novel and not just about the women or the Blitz as novel itself feels like veritable literary tour of London.

The novel opens with Lily on duty and having to face one of her fears of enclosed spaces. It was a great start to the novel and you’d easily fall in love with Lily. Her other fears though were not as easily conquered… Aside from her courage, empathy, and her wish to do well unto others, she’s also got a great sense of humour. Maybe that’s her Aussie flavoured humour that coloured her interactions with her friends and gave the book a reminiscent air. We follow Lily through her struggles with daily life during the Blitz; the grief of losing a friend and the joy of falling in love. There were some shaky moments where I thought things were just not going to be right with this book but thankfully, all was made quite well! I had to give the book a bit of a hug from relief and an affectionate pat when I finished reading for I was well & truly shaken.

There were a number of characters both likeable and despicable in this book and the variety and dynamics between these characters were really quite interesting. The book is told from Lily’s perspective only so in a way, we miss out on a lot about the other characters as only a few were well developed. However, as this is the first book of a trilogy, I do believe we will get to know some of the others quite well later on (and I look forward to this!). What you cannot mistake in this novel is the author’s views on anti-semitism (ignorant) and Hitler (evil); she’s loud and clear on that front. Hear! Hear! These things can never be stated enough and whilst Hitler is gone, there are still those like him & share his views.

If you loved the show, Call the Midwife, or the books that inspired it, you would love Ambulance Girls. Lily Brennan may not be English but she’s as brave as those midwives in facing uncertainties & adversities of the time. And I dare say that her Australian personality shone through especially against the foil of English reserved façade.

Thanks to Penguin Books Australia for copy of book in exchange of honest review

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Review: Life After Life

life after lifeLife After Life by Kate Atkinson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Source: Uncorrected Proof provided by publisher

The essential idea of Life After Life is similar to the movie, Groundhog Day, except that it does not repeat only the one day but a number of pivotal life events from which there is a chance of an alterable future. A concept, I’m sure, each one of us would love to experience… What would have done differently? If you had the chance, would you save your loved one or would you save the world?

Life After Life began with a very interesting little chapter that got me truly excited. From this, I expected some sort of intrigue –a war spy sort. However, the book really began with the birth of Ursula Todd and her chances at life. At first, I was enjoying the novelty of this concept applied to Ursula. I enjoyed hanging out with Ursula and her family but halfway through the book, it wore off and I was getting restless as I felt this isn’t going anywhere…

Unfortunately, Ursula also wasn’t going anywhere fast. It took her sometime to affect that which is most precious to her in life and there were just lives where she drifted away. She was, to me, too slippery to grasp. I really wasn’t sure what to make of her.

I might be a bit slow but I finally got the point right at the end when it was all spelt out for me –despite, I realised retrospectively, all the clues in the book. I was a little disappointed as my expectation was for something grander. However, after a certain period of consideration, it really is a lovely story.

Thank you, Random House via The Reading Room, for copy of ARC

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