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The Librarian of Auschwitz: A Book Review by Veronica Jorge

February 22, 2022 by in category Book Reviews by Veronica Jorge, Write From the Heart by Veronica Jorge tagged as , , , ,

THE LIBRARIAN OF AUSCHWITZ

by

Antonio Iturbe

translated by

Lilit Thwaites.

A REVIEW BY VERONICA JORGE

Henry Holt & Co., 2012,

First American Edition, 2017   

ISBN 978-1-62779-618-7

Recently, I replaced my worn copy of Hard Times by Charles Dickens, a novel about the political and economic woes of the 19th century. Hmm. Sound familiar? He prefaces one of the themes of the novel by quoting the biblical phrase, ‘what a man sows, that he will also reap.’ The story unfolds with the ‘seeds’ that each character sows, and the consequences of what they reap.

But that’s a sermon for the pulpit.

My topic addresses the need for books. Replacing this book, and several others, required a long search to obtain the copies in the editions and hard covers I desired. Did I really need to go through so much trouble for a book? Were they worth that much to me? Yes!

Which reminded me of…you guessed it…a book; The Librarian of Auschwitz by the Spanish journalist and author Antonio Iturbe, and based on the true story of Dita Kraus, the little girl who risked her life for the sake of books.

Block 31 in the Auschwitz/Birkenau concentration camp houses about five hundred children and several adults named counselors. Secretly they run a school and hide a library that consists of eight books which include, A Short History of the World by H.G. Wells, a Russian grammar, and a book on analytical geometry. Not exactly essential reading or something to risk your life for, yet that is exactly what they do. Dita is entrusted to hide the books in a different place each night because these books fill their greatest need: the survival of their minds and souls.

The story examines bravery, the causes people risk their lives for, and questions the importance of books. As the author examines on page 408 of his postscript, “Books can’t be used as weapons. They can’t fill a hungry stomach or quench thirst. They can’t cure illnesses, loneliness or prejudice.”

 Or can they?

The Librarian of Auschwitz, together with Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (1953), The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (2007), ( the narrator in Zuzak’s book is Death, wow!), and the non-fiction book by historian of education Diane Ravitch, The Language Police (2003), to name a few, deserve our attention for they remind us of the importance of freedom of thought and expression. In addition, books can indeed satisfy our hunger and thirst for knowledge; they make good companions to ease loneliness; they open our minds to empathize with other cultures and curb prejudice.

Books are also weapons. To quote an often used phrase: ‘The pen is mightier than the sword.’ So, let’s keep on writing.

Iturbe concludes that humans can survive with just the basic necessities, but it is culture and books that make a complete person. Without them humanity dies.

Veronica Jorge

See you next time on March 22nd!

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Babies, Books and Autumn?

October 10, 2021 by in category Charmed Writer by Tari Lynn Jewett tagged as ,

It’s October! Autumn is my favorite time of the year. I love the crisp autumn air, and the anticipation of the holiday season. This year is especially special. Our new grandson arrived and will experience his first autumn, first Halloween, first Thanksgiving and for Christmas. I hope you’ll forgive my absence the last few months, we’ve been totally captivated by Milo.

Milo Porter was born on April 9, to my oldest son Gerrod and daughter in law Kristina. And he has absolutely stolen my heart. Did I mention that he was named for me? Porter is his middle name, and my maiden name. I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t get a full name from my son before he was born, then when they were leaving the hospital (because of the pandemic we couldn’t be there) he sent me a picture of the discharge papers, and there was his name.  Okay, I might have cried (sobbed). They named their baby for me.

He’s beautiful, charming and has both GrandPaul and I wrapped around his little finger.

We all read to him, but I think the first to read a book to Milo was his big brother Isaac. Yes, this is a family of book lovers.

I do have some writing news. #SilverBracelets Book 2 in my #HermosafortheHolidays series is finally out in paperback. We had some glitches along the way, but it’s available on Amazon, and I’m so excited to finally have print copies!

And if you haven’t read #HauntedHermosa yet, this is the time! It’s a sweet little Halloween romcom. It’s available in ebook on Amazon.

I’m off to convince my son that Grandma needs zoom time with Milo and Isaac.

Happy October everyone!

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The toughest book I’ve ever written… by Jina Bacarr

September 11, 2021 by in category Jina’s Book Chat, Writing tagged as , , ,

Sometimes there are no words for how you feel… and a picture says it best.

Tonight I got hit by a double whammy.

9/11 and Dachau.

I watched two TV shows back to back… the first dealing with the fabulous documentary on CNN by French filmmakers and brothers, Gédéon and Jules Naudet, and firefighter James Hanlon. on 9/11 and the New York Fire Department… exceptional and gripping filmmaking.

And next a story about World War 2 shot in color by Hollywood director, George Stevens, and what he filmed when he visited Dachau in May 1945.

What do they have in common?

Well, this story will post on 9/11 on the 20th anniversary and I can’t not take a few moments to stop and ask for a moment of silence for all those who died… and those who survived who still have nightmares and heavy hearts. It’s something we do every year and this year it’s especially important.

May we never forget.

———-

The second TV show has to do with the toughest book I ever had to write. It’s about a beautiful perfumer who fights the Nazis, is arrested and sent to Dachau… I won’t give away the story except to say my heroine’s ability as a ‘nose’ or perfume creator gives her a different perspective on what survivors of the Holocaust experienced. Her talent puts her in a unique situation to tread on a different plane when she’s sent to the infamous concentration camp near Munich, Germany.

And how she survives…

Doing the research for my book was a soul-searching experience that makes me grateful for every day lived, every meal I enjoy…. every night of blissful sleep. No one coming for you… no beatings, degradation and humiliation (especially the treatment of women by SS guards) no rationing of the simplest things, no privacy, and for so many, no hope.

What sent me into tears tonight was when I saw the liberation of Dachau in color… the camp prisoners’ striped ‘pajamas’, the beetle-green German uniforms, the pure white snow… scorched red brick buildings… the hot yellow flames still burning in the crematoriums.

It was chilling.

What made this book so tough to write goes beyond just reading about the horror these people endured. I tried on a very small scale to experience the physical and mental emotions… wearing the same sweats and socks for a few days, not leaving the house, rationing my food to a bare minimum, deactivating social media to cut myself off so I’d have no idea what was happening the world. Setting my alarm to wake myself at odd hours to get a feeling of the uncertainty of life.

I was a mess in a few days.

I want to emphasize what I did was on an extremely small scale compared to the reality of the camps, but the hunger and feeling unclean and the loneliness became very real to me. It gave me a better perspective on how quickly lives changed when innocent, hard-working good people were rounded up — Jews, Roma, LGBT, political dissidents… even German citizens who simply spoke out against the Reich.

How some were sent to their death immediately, while others went to labor camps, a slow death. (‘You don’t come to Auschwitz to live,’ they said, ‘but to die’.) The prisoners in the camps endured unspeakable conditions for months… years.

So many were lost.

But so many did survive.

And it’s their stories I listened to, watched in documentaries, read in first person accounts. I urge you to do so, too.

We must never forget the Holocaust.

And unite in a sisterhood of remembrance. And never, ever, let it happen again.

Jina

——————-

My new Paris WW 2 novel is called THE LOST GIRL IN PARIS and is up on Amazon for pre-order. I don’t have a cover yet, but here’s a graphic I put together and the blurb:

‘I will never forget what the Nazi did to me. Never

1940, Nazi-occupied Paris. A powerful story of love, tragedy and incredible courage, about one woman whose life is ripped apart by war and risks everything to seek justice. Brand new from the bestselling author of The Resistance Girl.

As Nazis patrol the streets of the French capital, Tiena is alone, desperate and on the run. After defending herself against the force of an officer, she must find a new identity in order to survive.

An accidental meeting with members of the Resistance gives her a lifeline, as she is offered the chance to reinvent herself as perfumer Angéline De Cadieux.

However Angéline will never forget what happened to her, and will do everything she can to seek revenge. But vengeance can be a dangerous game, and Angeline can only hide her true identity for so long before her past catches up with her, with some devastating consequences…

Paris, 2003. When the opportunity arises for aspiring journalist Emma Keane to interview world renowned perfumer Madame De Cadieux about her life during World War Two, she is determined to take it. There are secrets from her own family history that she hopes Angéline may be able to help unlock.

But nothing can prepare Emma for Angéline’s story, and one thing is for certain – it will change her own life forever…

An absolutely heartbreaking, unforgettable historical novel of war, sacrifice and survival. Perfect for fans of Suzanne Goldring, Ella Carey and Catherine Hokin.

US https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09B1QDRVW/

UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B09B1QDRVW/

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Back to School and Good Books

August 10, 2021 by in category Writing tagged as ,

This time of year, always makes me nostalgic. The end of summer means the beginning of a new school year, and while my kids are all grown, I still remember when they were small, taking them shopping for back to school clothes, backpacks and lunch boxes, and all of the other supplies needed for a good start to the school year. Late summer days also remind me of my own childhood, back to school shopping for brand new pencils and notebooks, deciding which dress I’d wear on the first day of school, and the anticipation of seeing my friends again after a long lazy summer.

              I still indulge in back to school sales. Nothing gets me more excited than a stack of brand new spiral notebooks, and some new blue pens. And of course, there’s always shopping for the grandchildren!

              Warm summer days, are also perfect days to read. As a little girl I’d curl up under a shady tree, or lay on the cool tile floor of our basement family room with a stack of books, and read until my mother called me for dinner.

              Now that I think of it, that would be the perfect thing for me to do right now, curl up with a good book. I’m recovering from knee replacement surgery on my right knee, and waiting for surgery on the left, so share the best books you’ve read this year in the comments! And feel free to share your back to school memories! And just because it makes me happy, here’s a picture of my 12 year old grandson, reading to our newborn grandson.

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There is No Such Thing As Too Many Books

March 12, 2021 by in category The Writing Journey by Denise Colby tagged as , ,

I’m a firm believer that there is no such thing as too many books. I’m sure that’s a quote I’ve seen somewhere. Maybe I should get a t-shirt with that specific phrase on it!

photo of a library with lots of books on the shelves with blog title There Is No Such Thing as Too Many Books

My To-Be-Read-Pile is ever growing, is yours?

I have books on my Kindle, books under my bed, books on my nightstand, and in the special pieces of furniture that I purchased specifically to hold books.

And yet, I still love to go to the library and peruse possibilities or hunt for treasures at used book or garage sales, or add to my Kindle list through all the different newsletters I receive from the many authors I follow.

Am I the only one who does this?

Any suggestions for how to manage them all?

used book store front window promoting used and rare books bought and sold
I love to shop in used book stores!

Adding To The List

As I’ve made new writer friends in the different groups I’m a part of, I seem to have added a whole slew of authors to the list of books I want to read. It’s fun and exciting, but it can be overwhelming sometimes too.

I’m just curious to know if anyone shares in this same quandary?

My desire to add to my pile seems to ebb and flow, sometimes based on how overwhelmed I am with where to put everything. But mostly, I do tend to just accept and enjoy this desire to continuously add to my pile.

Of course, many books become favorites and I find it difficult to add them to the donate pile. Anyone have that habit as well?

Some days it feels like book overload. But other days, I just smile and look forward to the new set of friends I’m going to meet in the next book I read.

I’m hoping I’m not the only one who suffers from this malady!

Do you, too?

Denise M. Colby is writing her first novel. Check out her website to find out more about her story. You can also take a peek at her real-life hero she wrote about in a previous blog post.

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