Posted in Female Author, Nonfiction

Review ~ Surviving the Angel of Death

This book was provided to me by Tanglewood via NetGalley for review consideration.

Surviving the Angel of Death

Surviving the Angel of Death by Eva Mozes Kor & Lisa Rojany Buccieri

Eva Mozes Kor was just 10 years old when she arrived in Auschwitz. While her parents and two older sisters were taken to the gas chambers, she and her twin, Miriam, were herded into the care of the man known as the Angel of Death, Dr. Josef Mengele. Subjected to sadistic medical experiments, she was forced to fight daily for her and her twin’s survival. In this incredible true story written for young adults, readers will learn of a child’s endurance and survival in the face of truly extraordinary evil.

The book also includes an epilogue on Eva’s recovery from this experience and her remarkable decision to publicly forgive the Nazis.Through her museum and her lectures, she has dedicated her life to giving testimony on the Holocaust, providing a message of hope for people who have suffered, and working for causes of human rights and peace.

Summary via Goodreads

In a way, this is a hard book to review. Eva Mozes Kor’s story is amazing. Her will to survive, to keep herself and her sister alive, at 10 years-old(!) is extraordinary. If it were fiction, I would say that it is completely unbelievable. The entire thing. Rounding up entire populations for incarceration or elimination? Twins saved by a deranged doctor intent on performing dubious medical experiments on them? This is the stuff of third-rate dystopian fiction. But it isn’t fiction. This is a true account of what humans can do to other humans. Remembering that Kor’s account, and the innumerable other holocaust accounts, are real is what’s meant when we say never forget.

According to the epilogue, Surviving the Angel of Death is a YA version of Kor’s previous memoir, Echoes from Auschwitz. To me, it didn’t feel “YA” while I was reading it. The writing and organization of the book and clear and good, though maybe not stylistically outstanding. Kor felt that getting her story into younger hands was important. After her marriage and immigration to the US, she relates that it was difficult to tell her story because most people didn’t really have a frame of reference for the holocaust. It wasn’t until the 1978 TV miniseries The Holocaust that she had a basis from which to speak. To me, it seems strange that people might not know, but even I, who read The Diary of Anne Frank and Elie Wiesel’s Night in school, don’t know all the stories.

I read Surviving the Angel of Death right after finishing a book called The Coddling of the American Mind. The authors of that book present three fallacies that they believe people (Americans especially) are falling victim to. One of these fallacies is “the world is a battle between good people and evil people.” It would be easy to read Eva Mozes Kor’s memoir and say, “That isn’t a fallacy. Look at the evil she overcame!” But the antidote to the good/evil fallacy is to remember that we have everything in common as humans.

In 1993 I traveled to Germany and met with a Nazi doctor from Auschwitz, Dr. Münch. Surprisingly, he was very kind to me. Even more surprising, I found I liked him.

Eva Mozes Kor, Surviving the Angel of Death, pg 131

That Eza Mozes Kor was able to forgive what had been done to her, that she found peace in that forgiveness, is maybe what shouldn’t be the most extraordinary thing of all.

Posted in History

The End of #NaNoWriMo 2018

The problem with falling behind, but having a make-up plan, is that if you fall behind on the make-up plan, you’re kind of screwed. And partially, that’s what happened to me. I tapped out of NaNoWriMo last week with 32,907 words written.

But also I was at a point where my plot had shifted around a bit. One or two things weren’t working and, instead of piling on more errors, I decided to call it a day on the 50K goal.

Since last week, I’ve smoothed out some plot things and some character things. I have an ending in mind, which is a good thing. I’m doing some research and I’m looking forward to starting a 2nd draft/rewrite.

So, not a NaNoWriMo win, but 32K words that I didn’t have before and intentions to move forward. Still don’t have a title…

I used Mind Meister to put together my plot plan. It’s a work in progress.
Posted in Readathons-Challenges-Memes

#NonFicNov 2018, Week 5 ~ New to My TBR

Week 5: (Nov. 26 to 30) – New to My TBR (Katie @ Doing Dewey): It’s been a month full of amazing nonfiction books! Which ones have made it onto your TBR? Be sure to link back to the original blogger who posted about that book!

The biggest lesson I learned during the first year I participated in #NonFicNov was to bookmark/clip to Evernote every time I added a new title to my TBR. Pro tip of the year, right there. 😉 I was maybe a little more on the conservative side this year. There are so many books I want to read! New additions:

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup
by John Carreyrou

This one is on a lot of lists, but I first was reminded of it on Week 1 by Kim @ Sophisticated Dorkiness.

Conan Doyle for the Defense: The True Story of a Sensational British Murder, a Quest for Justice, and the World's Most Famous Detective Writer

Conan Doyle for the Defense: The True Story of a Sensational British Murder, a Quest for Justice, and the World’s Most Famous Detective Writer
by Margalit Fox

A best-of-the-year biography from Words And Peace.

Continue reading “#NonFicNov 2018, Week 5 ~ New to My TBR”
Posted in Female Author, Short Story

Deal Me In, Week 47 ~ “John Charrington’s Wedding”

DealMeIn

Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis
What’s Deal Me In?

“John Charrington’s Wedding” by Edith Nesbit

Card picked: Q
Found at: Grim Tales @ ProjectGutenberg

May was sitting on a low flat gravestone, her face turned towards the full splendour of the western sun. Its expression ended, at once and for ever, any question of love for him; it was transfigured to a beauty I should not have believed possible, even to that beautiful little face.

Edith Nesbit’s Grim Tales collection has been on my TBR-eventually list for quite some time. Without even realizing it, I’ve now read the first two stories in order from Grim Tales! I read “The Ebony Frame” back during Gothic September and now I’ve read “John Charrington’s Wedding” for Deal Me In. Both were suggested by different sources.

Nesbit’s style is fairly straight-forward and both of these tales are on the domestic relationship side of horror. In “The Ebony Frame,” the protagonist becomes enamored with a woman in a painting. In “John Charrington’s Wedding,” John is so devoted to May that he promises to return from the dead if she wants him to. We all know how that’s going to turn out, don’t we?  I’m now wondering how the next grim talein the collection will play out: “Uncle Abraham’s Romance.”

Posted in Readathons-Challenges-Memes

#NonFicNov 2018, Week 4 ~ Reads Like Fiction

Week 4: (Nov. 19 to 23) – Reads Like Fiction (Rennie @ What’s Nonfiction): Nonfiction books often get praised for how they stack up to fiction. Does it matter to you whether nonfiction reads like a novel? If it does, what gives it that fiction-like feeling? Does it depend on the topic, the writing, the use of certain literary elements and techniques? What are your favorite nonfiction recommendations that read like fiction? And if your nonfiction picks could never be mistaken for novels, what do you love about the differences?

Weirdly, this is not a thing I think about before, during, or after reading nonfiction. I have a tendency to see narrative everywhere and also have a tolerance for information-driven info dumps in fiction (in contrast to plot info dumps). So, I feel that the majority of nonfiction I read has some narrative fiction qualities to it. Even a books like NeuroTribes or The Turk use story as example or to relay history.

NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity The Turk: The Life and Times of the Famous Eighteenth-Century Chess-Playing Machine

Lately, though, I have noticed that organization is very important, in both “narrative” nonfiction and more didactic nonfiction. It’s probably the difference between a nonfiction book being readable and it just having lots of (good) information. One of the things that Erik Larson does very well is weaving histories and information together. On the poorer end of this is Heaven’s Ditch. Jack Kelly’s book has a lot of story, but the chronology of events was difficult to keep track of. (I’d still recommend it, but it’s not best of class.)

Thunderstruck Heaven's Ditch: God, Gold, and Murder on the Erie Canal

All in all, “does it read like fiction” is probably a question I’m going to give more thought too!

Posted in History

NaNoWriMo 2018 Update

Today is the 15th—the halfway mark for NaNoWriMo—so I figured I’d do an update.* So, how has it been going?

Word-count-wise, good. I had planned 25 days of writing 2000 words/day with five days off. I haven’t taken any days completely off, but I’ve definitely had a couple of (four) days of sub 1666s days. I’ve also four days substantially over 2000. My best day has been 2715 words which it possibly the best day of writing I’ve had in my entire *mumble mumble* years of writing. According to my plan, I should have 26,000 words written by the end of today. I’m currently at 25,069, so that shouldn’t be a problem.

Story-progress-wise, eeeeehhh. I’m not good at story planning. I always feel like, if I plan, I’ll lose interest in the story. As weird as this sounds, I like to be surprised at what might come up while writing. This would be fine if I were good at finding my ways out of story holes, which I’m not. But I have a rough idea of where I’m going and am trying to keep the story moving in that direction. I’m also continually repeating “This is a first draft. First drafts are terrible. But you can’t have a second draft without a first draft.” I’ve been adding a lot of comments. The story will need a lot of work, but I can’t fix a story that doesn’t exist.

* Okay, actually, I figured I’d do an update because I don’t have a review ready. I’m reading The Coddling of the American Mind (which came off hold at an inopportune time) and a book about the last half of David Bowie’s career which I have slated to last until its publication date in February…

Posted in Readathons-Challenges-Memes

#NonFicNov 2018, Week 3 ~ Be/Ask/Become the Expert

Week 3: (Nov. 12 to 16) – Be The Expert/Ask the Expert/Become the Expert (Julie @ JulzReads): Three ways to join in this week! You can either share three or more books on a single topic that you have read and can recommend (be the expert), you can put the call out for good nonfiction on a specific topic that you have been dying to read (ask the expert), or you can create your own list of books on a topic that you’d like to read (become the expert).

From me, it’s a little bit of all three: A list of great books, a few books on the same subject that I haven’t read, and a call-out for yet more books. And what’s my topic?

Female Magicians and Magicians’ Assistants

What I’ve Read

Adelaide Herrmann was extraordinary. She was the wife and assistant of Alexander Herrmann (known as Herrmann the Great). When he died in 1896, Adelaide picked up his mantle and continued to perform as a headline magician for another thirty year.! Magician Margaret B. Steele collected and published Herrmann’s memoirs in 2012 and a beautiful and exuberant illustrated children’s version was published in 2016.

Adelaide Herrmann Queen of Magic Anything But Ordinary Addie: The True Story of Adelaide Herrmann, Queen of Magic

Adele Friel’s career in magic was brief, but her memoir of the three years she spent with Harry Blackstone’s show gives a glimpse into what it was like to be a “box jumper”—an assistant who is often jumping in and out of boxes. Magician Ning Cai has spent time in boxes as well, but as an endurance artist and escapologist. Hers is also one of the few modern biographies I’ve found.

Memoirs of an Elusive Moth: Disappearing Nightly with Harry Blackstone and his Show of 1001 Wonders Who is Magic Babe Ning?
What I Haven’t Read…Yet

There are several books by and about female magicians that are hard to find, mainly due to the small-press nature of most magic publishers. Below are two that are at least available through a large retailer like Amazon. Dell O’Dell had her own circus in the 1920s and her own TV show in the 1950s. Frances Ireland specialized in magic for children and also took over her husband’s business when he died. L.L. Ireland Magic Co.  is one of the oldest magic shops in the US. It still exists today in Chicago as Magic, Inc.

Don't Fool Yourself: The Magical Life of Dell O'Dell You Don't Have to Be Crazy But It Helps
What Else is There?

I’m always looking for more books about magicians and magicians’ assistants. If you know of any, let me know!