Title: The Curious Kidnapping of Nora W

Author: Cate Green

Pages: 400 Pages

Publisher: Harper Collins

The Blurb

I am the oldest person ever to have lived in this world. I am the one who lived through their monster camps and brought the ones left of my family to London to make more family. I am the one to laugh at those angry, evil people and tell them, you see, I made it through. We made it through. This is enough. It is my world’s record.

Family matriarch and Holocaust survivor Nora Wojnaswki is about to become the oldest person in the world, ever, and her family are determined to celebrate in style.

But Nora isn’t your average centenarian and she has other ideas. When she disappears with her carer Arifa on a trip down memory lane in the East End of London, a wartime secret, buried deep for over 70 years, will finally be revealed.

The Review

The Curious Kidnapping of Nora W is one of those rare books that deals with a harrowing topic yet still feels like a massive warm hug in a book.

Nora W is about to become the oldest person to ever live. Not only that but she is a Holocaust survivor. Her life is a massive middle finger to that whole regime. Her family want to celebrate but Nora has other plans. Nora wants to spend her final years living with the same gumption that got her through the horrors of her past but will her family allow her.

Nora is the kind of old person that I want to be. I want to have the power to still be so stubborn in the face of those who feel that they know best and know exactly how to get them on side.

The Curious Kidnapping of Nora W is such a joyous read and I thoroughly recommend it.

The Curious Kidnapping of Nora W by Cate Green is available now.

For more information regarding Cate Green (@saracategreen) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Harper Collins (@HarperCollinsUK) please visit their Twitter page.

Title: Cilka’s Journey

Author: Heather Morris

Pages: 352 Pages

Publisher: St Martin’s Press

The Blurb

Her beauty saved her — and condemned her.

Cilka is just sixteen years old when she is taken to Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp in 1942, where the commandant immediately notices how beautiful she is. Forcibly separated from the other women prisoners, Cilka learns quickly that power, even unwillingly taken, equals survival.

When the war is over and the camp is liberated, freedom is not granted to Cilka: She is charged as a collaborator for sleeping with the enemy and sent to a Siberian prison camp. But did she really have a choice? And where do the lines of morality lie for Cilka, who was send to Auschwitz when she was still a child?

In Siberia, Cilka faces challenges both new and horribly familiar, including the unwanted attention of the guards. But when she meets a kind female doctor, Cilka is taken under her wing and begins to tend to the ill in the camp, struggling to care for them under brutal conditions.

Confronting death and terror daily, Cilka discovers a strength she never knew she had. And when she begins to tentatively form bonds and relationships in this harsh, new reality, Cilka finds that despite everything that has happened to her, there is room in her heart for love.

From child to woman, from woman to healer, Cilka’s journey illuminates the resilience of the human spirit—and the will we have to survive.

The Review

The Tattooist of Auschwitz is a story that has stayed with me since I read it. Therefore, I was eager to read the sequel Cilka’s Journey. We met Cilka in The Tattooist of Auschwitz and we saw the terrible way she was treated and the choices that she had to make. In Cilka’s Journey we follow Cilka to a Siberian Gulag.

In my own ignorance I did not know that some of the Jewish prisoners were not freed when the war was over. Those who were given jobs in the camp – jobs they did for survival – were then seen as conspirators with the Nazi’s and ended up in prison. This story is heartbreaking. Again, it is a fictionalised account of a real events and that makes it all the more powerful.

This series of books really does highlight just how much there is still to learn about the injustice that they Jewish people suffered and how it still needs to be discussed.

Cilka’s Journey by Heather Morris is available now.

For more information regarding St Martin’s Press (@StMartinsPress) please visit their Twitter page.

Title: Once

Author: Morris Gleitzman

Pages: 192 Pages

Publisher: Penguin

The Blurb

Once I escaped from an orphanage to find my Mum and Dad.

Once I saved a girl called Zelda from a burning house.

Once I made a Nazi with toothache laugh.

My name is Felix.

This is my story.


The Review

You would be hard pushed to find anyone who works with children who hasn’t heard of the Once series by Morris Gleitzman. It is the story of Felix; a young boy left in an orphanage by his parents on the outset of war. Felix has no idea what has happened but firmly believes that he will be reunited with his parents.

We follow his journey as he finds his way back home only to discover that the home he once knew is no longer the way he remembers it.

It is through the help of a strange man, a dentist, which Felix and other children survive as long as they do.

Once is the first in the series and I will be reading more. It is a great introduction into the horrors of war and Nazi occupied Poland.

Once by Morris Gelitzman is available now.

For more information regarding Penguin Books UK (@Penguin UK Books) please visit www.penguin.co.uk.

Title: A Berlin Love Song

Author: Sarah Matthias

Pages: 426 Pages

Publisher: Troika Books

The Blurb

Max is 17, a German schoolboy, when he meets Lili, a trapeze artist from a travelling circus that performs every year in Berlin. Lili is from a Romani gypsy family whose life and customs are very different from those of Max and his family. Their friendship turns into love – but love between a member of the Hitler youth and a gypsy is forbidden. As events tear them apart can their love survive? Set against the backdrop of the Second World War, A Berlin Love Song is a love story of passion, unexpected friendship, despair, loss and hope. It exposes the extermination of the Roma and Sinti referred by Angela Merkel as the forgotten holocaust.


The Review

Whenever I read a book that is set during the holocaust I initially forget just how breathtakingly horrific it was. As I read on, I am reminded of the atrocities and the lack of humanity and then I am saddened that mass genocide still happens today.

A Berlin Love Song by Sarah Matthias is an important book. Besides being beautifully written and besides telling a romantic love story it also tells the story of what is known as the forgotten holocaust; a time when it wasn’t only Jewish people who were persecuted but people who were gay, had dwarfism or who were travellers.

A Berlin Love Song tells the story of Max and Lili – two people who should not be together but have fallen in love in difficult circumstances. The message being that love transcends race, time and distance.

I have nothing but praise for this fabulous story. A Berlin Love Song deserves to be read just like the story of how the travelling community were persecuted during World War Two needs to be known.

A Berlin Love Song by Sarah Matthias is available now.

For more information regarding Sarah Matthias (@SarahMatthias7) please visit her www.sarahmatthias.co.uk.

For more information regarding Troika Books (@TroikaBooks) please visit www.troikabooks.com.

The Tattooist of AuschwitzTitle: The Tattooist of Auschwitz

Author: Heather Morris

Pages: 288 Pages

Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre

The Blurb

Based on the incredible true story of Lale Sokolov 

Heart-breaking  – a tale of love and survival amidst the horrors of Auschwitz

Human – the real story behind one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust – the blue numbers tattooed on prisoners’ arms

Inspirational – the very best of humanity in the very worst of circumstances

Unforgettable – a story untold for over seventy years is finally shared

Life-affirming – one man’s determination to survive and live a full life with the woman he loved

Fully verified – Lale Sokolov’s background and story has been fact-checked against all available documentary evidence

The Story

The Tattooist of Auschwitz is based on the true story of Lale and Gita Sokolov, two Slovakian Jews, who survived Auschwitz and eventually made their home in Australia.  In that terrible place, Lale was given the job of tattooing the prisoners marked for survival – literally scratching numbers into his fellow victims’ arms in indelible ink to create what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust.  Lale used the infinitesimal freedom of movement that this position awarded him to exchange jewels and money taken from murdered Jews for food to keep others alive.  If he had been caught he would have been killed; many owed him their survival.

There have been many books about the Holocaust – and there will be many more. What makes this one so memorable is Lale Sokolov’s incredible zest for life.  He understood exactly what was in store for him and his fellow prisoners and he was determined to survive – not just to survive, but to leave the camp with his dignity and integrity intact, to live his life to the full.  Terrible though this story is, it is also a story of hope and of courage.  It is also – almost unbelievably – a love story.  Waiting in line to be tattooed, terrified and shaking, was a young girl. For Lale – a dandy, a jack-the-lad, a bit of a chancer – it was love at first sight and he determined not only to survive himself, but to ensure that Gita did, too.  His story – their story – will make you weep, but you will also find it uplifting.  It shows the very best of humanity in the very worst of circumstances.

Like many survivors, Lale and Gita told few people their story after the war. They eventually made their way to Australia, where they raised a son and had a successful life.  But when Gita died, Lale felt he could no longer carry the burden of their past alone.  He chose to tell his story.

The Review

I’ve said it before and I will say it again. Some books have the ability to take your breath away. The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris is one such book.

It is the story of Lale Sokolov: a young Slovakian man who survived the horrors of Auschwitz. Books with an Auschwitz setting are invariably horrific and harrowing. It is even worse when it is a true story.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz reads like a movie, every detail is crisp in your mind and you do feel transported to the same time and place. And even with prior knowledge of the Holocaust, nothing can prepare you for the verisimilitude presented in this account. What is beautiful is that even through all the horrors there is still hope. The Tattooist of Auschwitz is a beautiful read.

It may sound dramatic but it is an honour to read such a story.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz is the first book I read in 2018 and I can assure you that it will take some beating as the book of the year for me.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris is available.

For more information regarding Heather Morris please visit her website www.heathermorris.com.au.

For more information regarding Bonnier Zaffre (@BonnierZaffre) please visit their Twitter page.

5 Stars