Blog tour · book review · books · reading · review

The Glovemaker by Ann Weisgarber | Blog tour

I don’t often read historical fiction, I’m even less likely to read American historical fictions – it’s just something I don’t know very much about. However, it’s always liberating to read a book I wouldn’t normally pick up and find out that I enjoy a new category of fiction. So when The Glovemaker came my way, I was intrigued.

Low in the canyon, a tiny town called Junction is home to a collection of families. It should be a place of relative safety. But this place attracts those hiding from the state’s Marshal and his deputies, those people who practise polygamy – and when the those people arrive Junction is no longer safe.

We follow the arrival of one such man in the late hours of a January evening. The snow is deep in Utah and it’s unusual for a Saint – as the Mormons call themselves –  to arrive at this time of year asking for refuge. This is where we follow Sister Deborah and her neighbour Brother Nel as they attempt to pass the Saint to a safe place. However, it’s not long until the Marshal turns up…

It took me a few chapters to get into the rhythm of Weisgarber’s writing, but her style soon gripped me into following the life of this tiny town. I was pulled into the description of canyon country; of the deep snow and harsh land. Weisgarber’s strong characters are driven by resilience and determination – but they must answer their own moral questions along the way.

There’s a clear depiction of the hardship women face; Sister Deborah’s character is as obedient as you’d expect to find in 1888. And it makes you realise how far women (and feminists) have come from the days of doing what you’re told. It’s clear Deborah doesn’t want the risk of a man on the run hidden in her shed, but because her husband is away from home for work (does that sound familiar?) she’s unable to say no. She has no spokesperson and she’s unable to give her opinion – something I think Weisgarber portrays well. 

The majority of the novel takes place in a 48-hour time period and the urgency of the events makes for a pressing read. It took me a week to make my way through the 290 pages (and it would have been quicker if a hardback book was more commuter-friendly). The novel switches between narrators – Sister Deborah and Brother Nel take turns telling their own version of events alongside their internal struggles of self, religion, and righteousness.

In Weisgarber’s author notes I got a snippet of the research that went into The Glovemaker – Junction was real, as was the passage to Floral Range where the on-the-run Saints looked for safety. The end result is a work of fiction that cleverly intertwines history to make this story not only believable but feel real too.

This review is part of The Glovemaker‘s blog tour. The Glovemaker by Ann Weisgarber was published on the 22 February 2019 by Mantle an imprint of Pan Macmillian. To see more thoughts from bloggers, take a look below: 

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book review · literature · review · war

The tattooist of Auschwitz – Heather Morris

It’s hard to read a holocaust story and somehow enjoy it. Enjoy is never the right word, but a book can certainly be a good read no matter how hard or harrowing the subject may be. It’s even harder to read a holocaust story knowing it is based on real events, the true story of Lale Sokolov – the tattooist of Auschwitz.

Lale enters Auschwitz in 1942 having volunteered to report to the Slovakian government as a Jew. He quickly realised that to survive is everything, and although survival comes with its own risks, it’s the overwhelming theme of the book and comes with its own consequences. When Lale meets Gita, his desire to live is strengthened – it’s one thing to live for yourself, it’s all together harder to live for someone else.

We follow Lale through his journey, from his arrival at the camp to his quick promotion as Auschwitz’s tattooist. He retells the conversations he has with his SS supervisor, the friendship he forms with the day workers on camp – throughout he continues to show his kindness, his desire to be more than a prisoner. We also view his first meeting with Gita, when he tattoos her number onto her bare forearm. The power she holds over him is instant.

When the worse crimes are happening around you, do your own morals get tarnished by the system?

At times, Lale appears cunning, using his unique position of power to aid those around him. Bread is the currency of Auschwitz, and Lale shares his extra rations with those most in need. He uses his connections around camp to exchange jewels and money for rations. Keeping and storing diamonds for his own protection.

There’s no denying the sights he sees are harrowing; the bodies of the dead, the tortured, those who have lost all hope. One morning Lale enters a gas chamber, not to be gassed, but to examine two prisoners with the same tattoo. His SS officer jokes he’s the only jew to walk in, and then out of a gas chamber. It’s a chilling thought.

As powerful as Lale’s story is, it’s hard to read this book without thinking of the millions of untold stories. The people who did survive. The prisoners who did not. There’s no one to pass on their horrors, they simply remain a number, a statistic.

book review · books · literature · review

How To Stop Time

Occasionally you can stumble upon a book that stops you in your tracks, a novel that makes you think. Matt Haig’s How To Stop Time did just that.

Haig elegantly mixes history and fiction, allowing our protagonist, Tom, to struggle with the wisdom 400 years on earth has tormented him with. It breaks down the human traits we recognise, and weaves them throughout history.

Tom Hazard was born in the late 16th century, yet he’s still alive in 21st century London. His many lifetimes span generations, from playing with Shakespeare and The King’s Men to life in 1920’s Paris. He joins Captain Cook on The Endeavour but it is the search for his daughter that truly keeps him alive.

There are large periods of Tom’s life where he is surviving. He is disjointed from the world, living his life in the shadows; neither connected to a person or a place. It’s a hard way to live and a lonely life too. But that can change with one person, a single piece of hope to carry you through the hard days. At the end of the day it’s our relationships with others that makes life worth living. Our shared experiences and in turn our shared history. A connection, a memory and a desire to live.

Beautifully written, this is book everyone should read.

autobiography · books · manchester · review · signing · young adult

All I Know Now

Alongside many peers of my own age, I’m constantly looking for role models; people who inspire and influence me. Those who appear to have a slightly better grasp on life then I currently do, who can offer advice, recommendations and aid us along our path.

All I Know Now - manchesterCarrie Hope Fletcher’s debut half-autobiographical half-advice book does just that, it’s a friendly guide, a chat with someone a little older then yourself. Her message is clear, we’re not facing our problems alone, they’ve been experienced before and they’ll be experienced once again. Whereas if we talk, discuss and open up ourselves things will get a lot simpler. Fletcher’s friendly tone follows through her writing, from friendship to bullying, optimism to reality and everything in between. Her guidance is perfect, approachable and easy to navigate through; certainly something I would have found very relatable through my early teenage years.

SignedWith my teens nearly behind me, there are of course aspect of the book that I found slightly irrelevant, but five years ago would have hung on to each little word. It’s a book that fills a much needed gap in the market, someones advice full of care and considerations with a clear audience in mind. Her incorporation of anecdotes fully reinstates that we all experience the same things, maybe not being chased by a bear, but we hit the same milestones at the end.

Her talk and Q&A session followed perfectly from her book; friendly and approachable, overly positive and eager to please her audience. We got to sing a long, giggle at the mishaps with the microphone and see her warmth and passion for what she’d written down. Fletcher reinforced her message, her positive approach to life and from that, it’s a book all ages can relate to; but if you’re in your early teens its an essential part to growing up.

All I know now          Book signing

All I Know Now is published by Little Brown, I visited her book tour event in Manchester. Find Carrie on youtube at http://www.youtube.com/carrie

Let me know your opinions on All I Know Now!

book review · books · fiction · literature · review

The Shock of the Fall

The Shock of the FallFilar’s The Shock of the Fall holds many characteristics I least expected it to contain, it firstly brings a much closer relationship and understanding to schizophrenia then any book I have read. Allowing the stigma associated with mental illness to be removed as we follow Matthew’s journey and the cycle his life is now confined to. As an outsider to any relationship with mental illness, this book encapsulated the very essence of humanity and provide the realistic struggles for all connected.

With a traumatic childhood depicted in the opening pages, consequent questions are created on the psychological impact that follows into our adult lives. This book continues to make you think, of how we are perceived, how we perceive ourselves and what impact this creates. In Matthew’s journey the queries raised are even harder to pin point as he struggles to come to term with his brother’s death and the life that follows.

Although not necessarily an easy read, from time to time we all need a book that questions our purpose and enlightens topics we previously were unaware of.

CostaThe Shock of the Fall, is so well crafted, I feel I now understand a small aspect of mental illness; of a life unknown. Filar’s debut novel asks more of its readers then most, but in return is more rewarding and fulfilling.

Nathan Filar’s The Shock of the Fall is published by Borough Press and won Costa Book of the Year.

book review · books · classics · literature · review

Little Black Classics

IMG_4130On the 80th anniversary of the very first penguin books, a collection of 80 classics have been reproduced all at the wonderful price of 80p. The most difficult part; deciding which ones to buy!

Like many others, and I’m sure this blog has made it clear, I love books; in all shapes and sizes. I enjoy exploring authors of new and old, one by one adding to my collection. So with the release of the Little Black Classics, it seemed a perfect opportunity to explore and expand my literature collection.

IIMG_4133 therefore tried my hardest to whittle the collection down to ten, for my first purchase at least. I went in to Waterstones without having previously decided on my choices, instead I waited to see what took my fancy. I chose mostly based on the authors, some of whom I’d read and enjoyed, others who I felt it was about time to start reading their work. Others came from the title, which caught me for no particular reason, each backed up by the tiny blurb on the reverse. One was recommended for me while I stood and stared at my options for far too long, and my final choice, Darwin’s It was snowing butterflies is for a friend who introduced me to the Little Black Classics.

So with ten new books purchased, it’s time to start reading them and watch my collection grow…

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books · crime · fiction · literature · reading challenge · review

The Silkworm

With a little break from exploring, it’s time to discuss Robert Galbraith’s second novel; The Silkworm.

The SilkwormI’ve been eagerly awaiting the paperbacks release, to revisit Cormoran Strike and his assistant Robin in their next case. Its beginning held parallels to The Cuckoo’s Calling, a little slow paced, as a mixture of smaller cases intertwine with the opening of the main story. However once a body has been found, the pace greatly increases, and the book becomes difficult to put down.

Following the disappearance of Owen Quine, an insight to the publishing world is unearthed. With the police certain Quine’s wife is their main suspect, Strike is engaged to find the answer to this confusing riddle. Calling in favours and using his associates, Strike slowly unravels the mystery and it certainly is not what you expect.

By producing a sequel Galbraith (J.K.Rowling), is permitted to further expand her characters, allowing the reader to understand Robin’s interest in detective work and explore Cormoran’s mind. With this, the story and case it revolves around involve the reader, allowing us to guess and discuss the case’s many twist and turns.

With a well planned and developed case, twisting when we least expect it; The Silkworm is another triumph is Galbraith series leaving us awaiting the next case…

The Silkworm is published by Sphere Books and is available in all good bookshops.