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Pierre Lemaitre
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Peter the Great: His Life and World
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If I Can't Have You: Susan Powell, Her Mysterious Disappearance, and the Murder of Her Children
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East West Street: On the Origins of "Genocide" and "Crimes Against Humanity"

East West Street: On the Origins of "Genocide" and "Crimes Against Humanity" - Philippe Sands It was a fascinating read for me and I loved every page turned in this memorable book. Philippe Sands traces the tragic secret history of his own family and we feel as if we are alongside him in his journey.
A personal family history painstainkilly researched and beautifully written by the author and a history of the legal concepts that were devised to deal with the historically unprecedented horrors of the Holocaust. East West Street weaves together a collective narrative which is focused on the interrelated lives of four men, Hersch Lauterpacht, Raphael Lemkin, Hans Frank and Leon Bucholz, the latter, Sands’ maternal grandfather. Two remarkable men from the city of Lviv who's tirelessly worked to have the terms "Crimes against humanity" and "genocide" in the judgement at Nuremberg.

The Author opens this novel with a Note to the Reader. The City of Lviv occupies an important place in this story........ and as we read we learn that The city has changed hands no fewer than eight times between 1914 and 1945 and has been known as Lemberg, Lviv. Lavov, and Lwow. After the Red Army vanquished the Nazis in the summer of 1944 it became part of the Ukraine and was called Lviv, the name that is generally used today. This is a city with a remarkable history, a city that has lost so much to history and war and yet given so much to the world.

If you have an interest in WWII, Family History stories, or The Nuremberg trials then beg, borrow or steal a copy I initally bought an audio copy of this book but thankfully a friend advised me to buy a hard copy of the book as it is packed full of photos, maps and illustrations which they assured me were very important to the story and I quickly purchased a used hardcopy on Amazon (which was signed by the author) and so glad I did as this is a book I will proudly display on my book shelf and already plan on re-reading it. The hard copy did contain so many photos, maps and illustrations that really inhanced this story and brought the characters and places to life.

Philippe Sands is a master at weaving family history with legal history and knowing how to keep the reader interested without the content becoming dry or too complex I had never read a book that that looked at this angle of the War and this was Fresh and rewarding.
This is a book I just loved every minute I spent reading it, I got so much from this book, I was shocked, saddened and above all I was educated which is why this is a 5 star read for me.
I am not going to recommend this to everyone but I do think readers who enjoy Non Fiction books , books about WW II/ Holocaust may be enjoy this book.

Before We Were Yours

Before We Were Yours - Lisa Wingate NOT JUST A PRETTY COVER, but Lisa Wingate has taken a heartbreaking and criminal time in a nation's history and produced a moving and compelling story of sisters and families torn apart by the Tennessee Children's Home Society Scandal (Memphis late 1930s)

I was swept in from page one in this well written historical fiction story and Lisa Wingate's novel is a terrific example of why I enjoy historical fiction stories. These stories reach thousands of readers like me who knew nothing about this sad time in American history and although this is a fiction tale based on true events it gives me the opportunity to decide whether I want to further my reading by picking up a non fiction book or content to have read and a well written and beautiful fiction read where the author thankfully includes a note at the end which explains what is fact and what is fiction and also gives a list of further reading which might interest the reader.

I think every country has its shameful secrets and a small country like Ireland is up there with its fair share of shameful secrets and its disgraceful treatment of mothers and babies in the not so distant past which is still only coming to light in recent years.
Lisa Wingate weaves a well thought out plot with memorable characters and while there were a couple of times in the story where I thought ok perhaps that was a little too convenient or contrived but I just tossed it aside as the enjoyment of the story far out weighted any tiny issues I might have had towards the end.

So happy to have purchased a hard copy of this novel as another beauty to add to my real life book shelf and the dust cover is staying firmly in place on this one. :-)

The Forgotten Highlander: One Man's Incredible Story Of Survival During The War In The Far East

The Forgotten Highlander: One Man's Incredible Story Of Survival During The War In The Far East - Alistair Urquhart To read Alastair Urquhart's account of the horrors he endured at the hands of the Japanese is shocking and quite moving. An extraordinary story of a 19 year soldier in the Gordon Highlanders captured by the Japenese in Singapore. He not only survived 750 days in the jungle working as a slave on the notorious death railway and the bridge on the river Kwai but he was also taken prisoner on one of the Japanese Hell ships which was torpedoed resulting in nearly everyone on board, but Urquhart liked to tell the tale and his book is a remarkable telling of his journey.

I have read a few books written by or about survivors of the War in the far east and each one is as important in its own right and deserves its place on The History Book Shelves. These soldiers accounts of their time as POWs at at the hands of the Japensese make for harrowing but powerful and necessary reading and for me their survival stories are in rememberance and in honor of their comrades who didnt make it back home.

This account is well written, concise and moving. I marvelled at the strength of mind and character of Alistair to survive the horrendous conditions he was subjected to by the Japanese. His journey home return to civilian life must have been just as difficult as I cant imagine how he documents his return to "normal" life and his struggles with coping. I was shocked that POWs were asked to sign a disclaimer by the British Army to say they would never speak of what had happened to them while POWs. These men truly were the forgotten heroes who arrived home to silence and struggled to put the past to rights.

An inspirational story for those interested in history and war. I can also recommend [bc:Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption|8664353|Unbroken A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption|Laura Hillenbrand|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1327861115s/8664353.jpg|12946965] and [bc:A Doctor's Sword – How an Irish Doctor Survived War, Captivity and the Atomic Bomb|31354409|A Doctor's Sword – How an Irish Doctor Survived War, Captivity and the Atomic Bomb|Bob Jackson|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1470397891s/31354409.jpg|52035367] both books are remarkable survival stories.

Next Year in Havana

Next Year in Havana - Chanel Cleeton 3.5 Stars

I love books where the protagonist tries to discover the roots of her identity and and this is what drew me to this novel. I enjoyed Chanel Cleeton's Next year in Havana as it took me on a journey to Cuba which a country I have read very little about and by the conclusion of this Historical Fiction Novel I had gained a little historical insight into Cuba and now look forward to reading some more books on Cuba in the near future.

"After the death of her beloved Grandmother, a Cuban-American woman travels to Havan where she discovered the roots of her identify and unearths a family secret hidden since the revolution."

This is a romance style novel but it does give a little insight into Cuban history and the revolution which is insightful and interesting, enough information to wet my appetite and kept me interested throughout the story. The Novel is set in two time frames and this works quite well. I preferred the historical story. The author explores the themes of family, love, loss and sacrifices and while I enjoyed the book I did find it a little repetitive and quite a bit forced in places and I found the ending a little too contrived.

Overall an easy read, nice sense of time and place and a book that many historical fiction readers will enjoy.

Hanns and Rudolf: The True Story of the German Jew Who Tracked Down and Caught the Kommandant of Auschwitz

Hanns and Rudolf: The True Story of the German Jew Who Tracked Down and Caught the Kommandant of Auschwitz - Thomas   Harding Fascinating and at times deeply disturbing but a book that will stay with me for a long time.

This is my second book by the author Thomas Harding having read and really enjoyed [b:The House by the Lake|26210499|The House by the Lake|Thomas Harding|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1461946175s/26210499.jpg|44363048][bc:The House by the Lake|26210499|The House by the Lake|Thomas Harding|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1461946175s/26210499.jpg|44363048] I decided to try another of his books and this one sounded fascinating.

While attending his great uncle’s funeral in 2006 Thomas Harding discovers that Hanns Alexander, whose Jewish family fled to Britain from Nazi Germany in the 1930s, was responsibable for hunting down and capturing the notorious and ruthless commandant of Autwitz Rudolf Höss at the end of World War Two. In this engaging account based on archival materials, family letters, tape recordings, and interviews with survivors, Harding takes us through the two men's lives and we lean a great deal about both and their backgrounds. This was probably the most fascinating part of the book for me as I thoroughly enjoyed reading the early life's of these two men and their families.

I loved the fact that the writing is clear and concise and Harding has a story to tell and does so in a fashion that is easy to follow and entertaining for the reader. I had come across Höss in a number of accounts before and while I knew he was a a monster this books enlightens us to his early career and his family which was new material for me. Hanns Alexander a German Jew living in England Is the other protagonist of this book and his early life and family and how he became a Nazi Hunter makes for entertaing reading. The book contains Family trees, photos and maps which for me is really important when reading books on historical figures.

This was just the book I needed to take me out of my reading slump and while I may have read a great deal about this period in history I still find something new and educational in every book I pick up. A book that entertained, educated and at times make me gasp out loud is the reason this one gets the 5 * treatment from me.

All But My Life: A Memoir

All But My Life: A Memoir - Gerda Weissmann Klein . Beautifully told.... a very poignant and remarkable story of survival and courage. This is the story of Garda Weissmann Klein's six year ordeal as a victim of Nazi cruelty, from her confortable home in Bielitz in Poland to her miraculous survival and her liberation by American troops including the man who was later to to become her husband .

I never find it difficult to explain why I read so many books written by Hollocualt survivors as I find their stories compelling, remarkable, and inspiring and with each book I read I am grateful and indebted to these remarkable people for having the courage to share their memories with the public so we can can never forget the past and the terror and pain endured by these survivors and their families.

I listened to this account on audio and while I can highly recommend the book I cant recommend the audible as the quality was poor and quite muffled, I had to adjust the volume on numerous occasions. It almost felt like I was listening to an old black and while movie with poor sound and the narrator sounded bored reading the book.
However I cannot fault the memoir as it is moving and insightful, Greda's story is heartbreaking and yet uplifting, this is a book that will stray with me for a long time.I particularly loved the the epilogue and how her American life turned out.

I do wish I had a hard copy of this book and hope to obtain one in the future.

Dreamland Burning

Dreamland Burning - Jennifer Latham 3.5 Stars

An historical fiction /mystery story loosely based on on the time of The Tulsa Rasce Riots of 1921. At the heart of this novel is a mystery and it was interesting and entertaining reading.

Seventeen year old Ronan Chase finds a skeleton on her family property and has no idea that investigating the brutal century old murder will lead to a summer of painful discoveries about the past, the present and herself.

A fast paced read where two stories are told in two different time frames which worked really well for me. I didn't know anything about this time in history and while I leaned only a little in this novel it has sparked my interest to read more and I think that is why I enjoy historical fiction books.
I probably would have rated this one a little higher but some of the story and the characters felt just a little contrived. However an enjoyable and entertaining read and a book that informed me of an event in history that I knew nothing about.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz

The Tattooist of Auschwitz - Heather Morris The power of Love. The Tattooist of Auscwitz is a love story that has stood the test of time and a book that portrays one mans determination to survive against the odds

This is the true story of Lale Sokolov the tattooist of Auschwitz and how found love in the concentration camp. The book is well written, emotional and the story itself is interesting and uplifting. A love story that develops against all that is evil really is worth telling and reading about.
I have read quite a lot of Non Fiction books on the Holocast but I think this was my first book about a romance within the camp.
The book doesn't go into depth on the War although it does depict the horrors of the camp quite well but the story centers more around the romance between Lale and Gita. While I enjoyed the book and found it as nice easy read I was left wanting and I think I had expected more from this one but this is me and not the book as I know so many of my friends have loved this one.
I listened on audible and found the narrator adequate but didn't add anything to the experience for me. I did like the notes at the end as this does clarify what happened afterwards and I believe the hard copy contains photos which I googled as this is something you miss with audio eversion.

An interesting read but not one for my faviourites shelf.

Educated: A Memoir

Educated: A Memoir - Tara Westover Written with the skill and resonance of a work of fiction, Tara Westover's memoir is heart-breaking and frank and yet hopeful in its telling.

Westover was born in 1986, grown up in a rural Idaho radical Mormon Family dominated by her father Gene who was determined to raise his children away from the clutches of the government and the wider world. She had never heard of the Holocaust, Napoleon, or Martin Luther King and she had thought Europe was a country. When she gains a place in college through self education at the age of 16 Tara's enlightenment begins and she is at last EDUCATED.

This is without doubt a terrific, page turning book, well written, often times brutal and shocking. It is difficult to understand that a family lived and raised children in these conditions and isolation in the 80s and 90s and this book for me read more like an account from sometime back in the 30s/40s. However this is Tara's story warts and all and she tells it well. I admired how she overcame her obstacles and produced an amazing book as well as an opportunity to tell her story to the world. A compelling and interesting read and a writer than oozes talent and I look forward more work by Tara Westover.

After reading a book like this I am always conscious of the family members behind the story and how they feel about their dirty laundry being aired in public and I researched a little on the internet and there are members of her family who don't seem to agree with Tara's memories or some of the accounts in this book and I am sure books like this can be quite painful for families to read. However this is Tara's story and I can only read,review and rate the book on the written word in front of me and how I reacted to those words

Recommended reading and a book that would make a terrific book club read.

My thanks to Net Galley for an opportunity to read this book in return for an honest review.

The Rape of Nanking

The Rape of Nanking - Iris Chang By far the most painful book I have ever read and yet a book that should be READ, passed on, READ, passed on, READ and passed on and ON so that new generations of people learn what those forever silent can't relate to their loved ones because they themselves have been Massacred

I came across this book having just finished [b:White Chrysanthemum|34701167|White Chrysanthemum|Mary Lynn Bracht|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1494295249s/34701167.jpg|55879846] a historical fiction account of The Comfort Women and wanting to read more on this time in history I found this book.
The Nanking Massacre was an episode of mass murder and mass rape in 1937 that lasted for 6 weeks, committed by Japanese troops against the residents of Nanjing (Nanking), then the capital of the Republic of China, during the Second Sino-Japanese War. More than 300,000 chinese civilians and soldiers were systematically raped, tortured, beheaded and murdered in the most unthinkable and horrific ways.
I have been vaguely aware of this terrible time in histroy but have never read anything about it and when I discussed this book with my work colleagues not one of them had heard of the Rape of Nanking or read or seen any documentaries related to this massacare which in itself is pretty shocking as this was a Holocaust which the world seems to have conveniently forgotten or swept under the carpet.

This is a DIFFICULT read as the descriptions of the atrocities are very very graphic but thankfully for me I only had to read about it and not endure it or witness it therefore the nightmares I experienced after reading passages in this book are nothing compared to what Chinese people still seeking justice must experience when they read a book like this and think how their ancestors met their fate.
An extremely well written and researced book and the author uses sources such as diaries, government documents, newspapers reports and interview with survivors.

Where there is evil there is sometimes amazing acts of bravery and heroism and this book really does highlight a few amazingly good people who saved thousands and I loved how the author researched and highlighted their stories and the good work they did among all the evil.
I was shocked, sickened, saddened and angry reading this book but above all I was EDUCATEDand I have already ordered two copies of this book for family members.
The Life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living. Marcus Tullius Cicero


Four Seasons in Rome: On Twins, Insomnia, and the Biggest Funeral in the History of the World

Four Seasons in Rome: On Twins, Insomnia, and the Biggest Funeral in the History of the World - Anthony Doerr What a book ! Sensual, Captivating and beautifully written. Anthony Doerr finds himself in the heart of Rome shortly after his twin boys were born. Having received the Rome Prize, an award that gave him a year-long stipend and studio in Rome he embraces the adventure and moves his family to the Eternal City.

I loved so much about this book, the writing is poetic, lyrical and so vivid, the author's descriptions of Rome through the seasons are breathtaking. This is a short read at 205 pages but Doerr never wastes a word as we walk through the streets of Rome with him and his enviable stroller containing two delightful and demanding babies. We see life in a small apartment with his wife and children and how they try to adapt to the language and customs of a foreign city where life takes on a new meaning as well as challenges. I loved the snippets of history of Rome sprinkled throughout the book and I spent almost every chapter googling places and buildings and really enjoyed this eloquent and witty little book. His descriptions of people he met on the streets on a daily basis was so vivid and real. All in all a suprisingly uplifting and delightful read and a lovely little escape to a city full of life and history and intrigue.

White Chrysanthemum

White Chrysanthemum - Mary Lynn Bracht A deeply moving and beautifully written historical fiction novel of human resilience and enduring love of sisters, a story about the Korean ‘comfort women’ prostituted by Japanese soldiers in World War II and two sisters separated as young girls but the bond of sisters remains strong and they never strop thinking about each other..

This was an eye opening and haunting debut novel by Mary Lynn Brecht and while fictional it is based on real life events that are harrowing and disturbing in places to read but I always remind myself that I only have to read about these events " real woman had to endure them and their families have to relive them in trying to find justice and peace for these women" and I thank the author for giving me the opportunity to read and lean about a time in history that was not taught in my curriculam in secondary school. The people in this book are not just make up characters but flesh and blood people in the past whose stories need to be told through fiction or non fiction to educative and keep their memory alive and to seek the truth for a new generaltion. I have lined up a couple of Non Fiction reads to further educate me about this time in our world's ugly history.

I listened to this book on audio and the narrator was excellent, well paced and easy to listen to. I always find historical fiction books really give a terrific insight into history and although they are not 100% accurate they do tend to introduce the reader to events and people in history they may not have been aware of or might never read about and I think that is so important.

I am starting the Rape of Nanking a non fiction book about the Nanking Massacre and the massive atrociities committed by Imperial Japanese Army after it.[bc:The Rape of Nanking|95784|The Rape of Nanking|Iris Chang|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1348687411s/95784.jpg|31912]


Penance - Kanae Minato, Philip Gabriel Having loved [b:Confessions|22674160|Confessions|Kanae Minato|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1404750772s/22674160.jpg|4371200][bc:Confessions|18226111|Confessions|Kanae Minato|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1381430396s/18226111.jpg|4371200] I was eager to get my hands on [b:Penance|31423183|Penance|Kanae Minato|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1481661472s/31423183.jpg|13673172] by the same author but unfortunately I felt Penance just didn't cut the mustard and left me feeling a little disappointed.

Set in Japan Four women, haunted by a childhood trauma. What really happened that day--and what followed, for each of them, in the years after?

I love how this author writes and she packs so much in such a short novel, terrific character development but because the story is told from five of the characters viewpoints I found it extremely repetitive and at times confusing. I love the darkness in her stories and while Penance has that element running though it I think[b:Confessions|19161835|Confessions|Kanae Minato|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1401076501s/19161835.jpg|4371200] was much more engrossing and intriguing.
I look forward to reading more by this author in the future and highly recommend [b:Confessions|19161835|Confessions|Kanae Minato|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1401076501s/19161835.jpg|4371200] if you looking for a good dark mystery set in Japan.


Crippen - John Boyne This is a novel to burrow into and one for the Autumn / Winter list. My 10th Novel by John Boyne and I really do find that this author has a talent for creating memorable characters and bringing history to live. Pure entertainment and great stroytelling.

Each of his novels are uniquely different, engaging and enthralling and I love picking up a John Boyne Novel as you never really know where his books are going to take you.
I didn't even read the blurb of this novel and was presently surprised when finishing to realise that this was (loosely) based on true events and I really enjoyed my google search to find photos of the people involved.

"July 1910 The Grisly remains of Cora Crippen, music hall singer and wife of Dr Hawley Crippen are discovered in the cellar of 39 Hilldrop Crescent, Camden. But the Doctor and his mistress Ethel Le Neve have vanished much to the frustration of Scotland Yard and the outrage of horrified London

John Boyne is all about the character development and while many of the characters are dislikable they are certainly memorable and vivid. This Novel is quite long at 500 pages and yet it is beautifully paced and the slow release of the story keeps the reader engaged and in suspense right up until the end. The book moves beautifully from one location and one time frame to another without confusing the reader.

I really enjoyed this one, its an old fashioned style thriller/ historical novel based on an actuary case in history.

I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes With Death

I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes With Death - Maggie O'Farrell I am a fan of Maggie O' Farrell Novels and love her descriptive writing. Her story telling is unique and fresh. Her latest book is totally different as it's a memoir that is quirky, interesting, honest, revealing and vivid.

Told through 17 near death experiences that the author experienced throughout her life, you find yourself reading with bated breath as O Farrell draws you in with words and descriptions that make the reading experience very real and poignant.

At O’Farrell’s near-catastrophic childbirth, a mysterious man in beige steps in with an unexpected kindness. She writes, “When he took my hand he taught me something about the value of touch, the communicative power of the human hand." . A simple gesture and yet this has simple act had such an effect on the author and on me as a reader it simply brought tears to my eyes.

It's a book that makes you question your own life experiences and you find you dig deep in your own past of near misses that you may never have thought about until you read this book. I found her experiences with hospitals, consultants and doctors very interesting and frank. I was a little worried to begin with that this book would be morbid and difficult reading but O' Farrell manages to keep it upbeat and while there were times my heart strings were tugged and I felt tears prickling, there were other times I smiled and felt uplifted and this is due to the author's exquisite prose.
I am, I am, I am is not narrated chronologically but by the organ or body part primarily affected, which may seem odd to begin with but make sense as you read the book.

The first story in the book is called NECK and sent shivers down my spine, chilling but so well recounted that you feel you are there with O' Farrell in this terrible moment and each and every story had pretty much the same effect on me.

I listened to this one on audible and the narrator was excellent.

Three Things About Elsie

Three Things About Elsie - Joanna  Cannon 3.5 Stars
This was BBC Radio 2 Book club read for January and I have enjoyed many of of the reads on this list. Three things about Elsie is sentimental, witty and a charming read about ageing, memory loss and friendship.

The novel opens with the main character, 84 year old Florence lying on the floor of her flat in a sheltered accommodation village, While she awaits for help she starts to reminisce about things that have happened in her life and how she struggles with making sense of her past as her memory is now constantly letting her down and she struggles with secrets that have come back to haunt her.

A story about aging and memory loss can be sometimes difficult to read but Three things about Elsie is quite witty and a gentle read and its hard not to care about Florence and her friendship with Elsie.
There is a mystery at the heart of this novel which was entertaining but was quite predictable. The story does however give food for thought as we are all in the ageing process and sometimes its not easy to think about what the future holds but Three Things about Elsie is quite an endearing read and not at all depressing.

I think readers who enjoyed [b:Elizabeth Is Missing|18635113|Elizabeth Is Missing|Emma Healey|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1388883559s/18635113.jpg|24946905] or [b:A Man Called Ove|18774964|A Man Called Ove|Fredrik Backman|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1405259930s/18774964.jpg|21619954]may well enjoy this novel.