Tuesday, March 10, 2015

#115 : A Life of the Twentieth Century by Irene Even : A Review

A Life of the Twentieth Century

BOOK TITLE: A Life Of The Twentieth Century
ISBN: 163263435X
AUTHOR: Irene Even
GENRE: Fiction
FORMAT: Digital
REVIEW BY: Shree Janani
HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: Review Copy as a part of iRead Book tours. Thanks Laura & Irene
A Life of the Twentieth Century is the story of Aya, who lived through the loss of her parents before the age of 3. At the age of twelve she was sent to a boarding school in Budapest, that closed after one year, because the Nazi army marched into the city.

Aya was left totally alone to face the Nazi occupation, and to experience all the horrors of the war. She faced many life threatening situations, such as prison, bombardment or even the possibility of being executed on the spot, without really comprehending the gravity of it all.  The end of the war was supposed to mean liberation, the return of hope and freedom for most people, however it didn't happen for Aya, who was part of a youth group on her way to Palestine. The destination of this youth group was to reach Italy and the Jewish Brigade. They crossed the Alps on foot from Austria to reach Italy.   As they reached their destination Aya met a soldier from the Jewish Brigade, who was supposed to be her Hero, her Saviour, but turned out to be the devil incarnate. From day one, this soldier of the Jewish brigade took control of Aya's life when she was only 15 years old.

After divorce, destitute and once again alone, she had no direction and almost no hope, when from deep inside her a small voice said; go back to school. It took all her courage to apply to university, where she was accepted and after 5 year was granted a B.A. and a Diploma of Teaching. She spent the rest of her life teaching, and as she contemplated her life she said to herself that if she had had all the choices in the world, she would have chosen teaching.
A autobiographical account of a holocaust survivor is every history lover’s dream. Especially if the protagonist is a woman who has managed to survive the brutality of the war, the story would obviously be an astounding read. This book indeed was an astounding read. Reviewing an almost autobiographical account is a personal challenge for me for I haven’t reviewed much books from this genre. I would like to split the review into three parts namely- the war part, Post war part and post relocation part.
The war part – Mild disappointment
The book begins with Aya’s account of her dismal childhood and takes the readers on a journey of her escape from the Nazi brutality. Some parts of the whole escape scenario was a little surprising to me. I felt either the writer was plain lucky to have survived or she has done a fantastic job of hiding her true pain. I am inclined to believe the latter. Losing parents and surviving Hitler surely should have been immensely painful. The writer presented a toned down account of her life surviving Nazis and marrying without actually wanting to.
Post war account – Frustrating yet fascinating    
This part of the book covers Aya’s journey from Europe to Canada along her children and her husband.  Aya apparently is a woman of immense patience. She ended up caring for her husband though he deserved none of it. Patience is a quality inherent to women. Aya is the perfect example. This story being a real life account helped the writer give immense depth to characterization. It felt like I personally knew each of the characters. Hats off mam for portraying people so well!
Post relocation account – an inspiration
It takes immense will power and determination to visit a place which is filled with horrid memories. Aya’s decision to move to a different place and take up a career in teaching is truly inspiring. Learning a new skill past the prime age of learning isn’t an easy task. Aya’s determination to learn and teach students and to excel at it is indeed and inspiration
Overall, the book is one well written memoir of sorts which deserves a patient read. This book is not for those with an attention span of a firefly.
VERDICT: A moving tale of a strong and inspiring woman
RATING: 4 on 5
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Irene Even was born in Hungary. As a child she lived through the Second World War, using false papers to survive. After the war, she immigrated to Palestine, lived in a Kibbutz, then later married and immigrated to Canada with her family. She returned to Israel to teach English and remained there for twenty-two years. Having written her memoir, A Life of the Twentieth Centuryshe now lives in retirement in Montreal.
PRICE: Rs.301 (kindle)

BOOK LINKS: http://www.amazon.com/Life-Twentieth-Century-Irene-Even-ebook/dp/B00NJ520RO/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1421958174&sr=1-1&pebp=1421958388750&peasin=B00NJ520RO

Note : This review was first posted in Readers' Muse


Thursday, March 5, 2015

#114 : Scarred by Marie Long : A Review


ISBN: 9780986301902        
AUTHOR: Marie Long
GENRE: Fiction – Romance
FORMAT: Paperback
REVIEW BY: Shree Janani
HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: ARC in exchange for an honest review by the writer via NjKinny Book tours. Thanks Nikita & Marie.
SUMMARY: Sometimes, love comes with a price…

The past is always gonna try and bring you down, but you gotta fight. Fight hard for what you love. Fight to win is what twenty-two-year-old Dominick Anderson believes, but his life is a struggle. Growing up with an abusive father has made Dominick slow to love and trust, and he relies on his brother Kevin to keep him on a straight path. Dominick fights his demons every day, every night. Now a sophomore at the University of Washington and working a steady job at a mechanic’s shop, Dominick wants to create a better life and find the future his father never wanted him to have.

Dominick suppresses his identity and feelings until he meets Denise Ramsey. Smart, stunningly gorgeous, and sharing his love for motorcycles, Denise is everything Dominick longs for in a girl but knows he can never have. When a past love threatens her life and brings out Dominick’s suppressed dark side, he must decide if she’s worth the risk.
The book synopsis didn’t exactly jump out for me. It was just another routine from this genre, but I didn’t want to write off the book for some reason. I’m glad I didn’t. The story line is pretty much conforms to that of the summary, except that “demons” and Dom’s “past” are elaborated (of which I am not going to mention for it will be a major spoiler)
Characterisation: Simple and Neat
The characterisation was simple and neat. Writers normally tend to get carried while writing a story that has a heavy storyline in terms of emotions making their character all complex and dark. Thankfully again, this writer did no such thing. All the characters were in check with their emotions. Chivalrous men are such a turn on. Dom was such a gentleman all throughout in spite of Denise being such a strong character. I felt Denise’s character was a bit rough and could have used much more emphasis.
Storyline: Sturdy and Clean
The story line was simple, clean and had all the right ingredients such as romance, drama and action in the right amount to make sure the reader isn’t bored. In fact, I wanted to finish of the story in one go just to know what Dom’s haunting past was.
Writing and other essentials
The writing was simple and focused. There was enough proper “good old romance” and there was enough “new age romance” too. A perfect balance between them I’d say. The writer beautifully tied all the loose threads that she initially left hanging. In spite of many pluses in the form of good characterisation and a neat story, the book lacked something for me. I felt the emotions could have been a bit deeper, with the exception of the Frank and Dom thread of the story. 
The writer obviously has a potential to create magic, maybe she needs a push.
VERDICT: A good story backed by good characterisation. Just lacks that magic!

RATING: 3 on 5

Note : This review was first posted in Readers' Muse