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Wolf: Excerpt

Excerpted from WOLF: A NOVEL by Herbert J. Stern and Alan A. Winter

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Berlin, February 28, 1933 

 

“I am to meet Bernhard Weiss at this address.”


“He doesn’t live here,” said Lucie. Lucie Fuld-Traumann was a stout, married woman in her fifties. The whites of her eyes became more visible as her gaze traveled from my black high boots to the red swastika armband to the shoulder epaulets and finally to the SS lightning bolts on my collar. Her lips trembled in fear. Her gnarled hands twisted a blue-and-white dishtowel into knots. 

 

“Damn it, woman, we don’t have a moment to waste. Where is your brother?” I brushed past her and slammed the door before removing my peaked cap. “You don’t want your neighbors gossiping that an Obergruppenführer was seen standing in your entranceway. Now get Bernhard.” 

 

Lucie stood her ground. “I told you, Bernhard is not here.” 

 

The house was compact: crystal chandelier above our heads, living area with an upright piano to the left, kitchen straight ahead, and the dining room to my right. The dinner table had been set for three. I knew that Lucie and her husband, Alfred, who must have been cowering in an upstairs room, did not have children. After Bernhard Weiss, deputy police commissioner of Berlin, had been removed from office some months earlier, he sent his wife and daughter to Prague while he sought refuge in his sister’s house . . . hiding from the very police he once commanded. 

 

I turned back to Lucie. “Didn’t he tell you to expect Friedrich Richard?” I showed her my identification card. “I’m Friedrich.” Lucie remained frozen in place, unsure of what to do. 

 

Time was of the essence. “You must trust me. We have a window of opportunity to get Bernhard to safety and join his family in Prague. It’s a seven-hour drive through the back roads to the Czech border. If we leave now, we can stay ahead of the men who have been dispatched to arrest him. Now take me to him. Immediately.” I glared down at her. “You brother’s life is in your hands.” 

 

Without further denial, Lucie guided me to the basement door. It was dark. At the bottom, she pushed a button and a small light buzzed to life, casting macabre shadows on the damp walls. She called her brother’s name. 

 

Then I bellowed, “It’s me. Friedrich. We need to go . . . now.” 

 

Clothes rustled from an unlit corner. A soot-smeared Bern- hard Weiss emerged from behind the coal stack. He coughed into a handkerchief before he could speak. 

 

“I knew you would come,” he said without preamble. We clasped hands. 

 

“Goebbels has ordered your immediate arrest. We don’t have much time.” 

 

Weiss nodded and pushed passed me. Upstairs, he grabbed a packed bag stashed for the day he needed a quick getaway, snatched a pistol from a side table that he shoved into the back of his pants, hugged his sister, promised he would see her again, and left his beloved Berlin . . . without realizing he might never return. 

 

 

When we found the address on Kaprova Street, in Prague’s Jewish Quarter of Josefov, Bernhard said, “Don’t stop. We’ll get out a few blocks from here. No need to connect this car to my family’s address.” 

 

We parked on a street with many stores. As I came around the car to join him, Bernhard motioned me to the other side of the street. “We make an odd couple. People will remember us if asked. Walk over there.” He made a valid point. I was more than a head taller than him. I walked at a different pace than him, turning corners a few seconds after he did. After a number of blocks, he looked both ways before entering an aged apartment house. I counted to twenty and then followed through the front door. 

 

“Here.” I looked up. Weiss leaned over the railing and pointed to the stairs. There was an open door to the left of the landing. I found Bernhard hugging and kissing his wife and daughter in the salon. After he introduced me, I followed him into a smaller room. 

“Close the door.” There was a small table with two wooden chairs arranged below medallion macramé lace curtains. 

 

Before he said anything, I blurted, “I can’t go back. Not after what we just did.” 

 

“Friedrich, no one but us knows what happened today.” His steel-gray eyes were piercing as he added, “There were no witnesses.” 

 

“I’m not talking about just today, Bernhard. I’m talking about what is in store for your people in the days and years ahead. The Nazis are fanatical in their racial theories.” 

 

“That is all the more reason why you have to go back.” 

 

“I don’t know if I can return to Berlin and look at Hitler or those around him in the eye anymore.” 

 

“No one is closer to the Führer than you. You’re the only one in a position to do something. You must return.” 

 

I pushed up from the small table and paced like a caged animal. “If I try to stop them I’ll be killed.” 

 

“No one expects you to march into a room and wipe out everyone. But there will be opportune times when you may be able to affect change. You’re Hitler’s favorite. There is no one in a better position to speak sense to him. That’s your destiny. To make that possible.” He raised his right hand. “God help me, I didn’t want to, but I had to execute that poor guard.” 

 

I went to the window, lifted the edge of the curtain, and gazed out at the city I thought might be my new home. When I dressed in my uniform before fetching Bernhard, I believed it would have been the last time I would wear it. That’s why I stuffed my pockets with Reichsmarks, took my precious photograph that I had carried since the war, and left everything else, intending never to return. 

 

Bernhard cleared his throat.


I turned from the curtain and faced him.


“There’s one more thing you must do, Friedrich. You need to keep an account.”


“An account of what?”


“You were there at the beginning. When the Nazis weren’t even the Nazis. When they were an aimless group of puny men who met in a tavern to swill beer and discuss politics. No one knows the history of how this happened better than you. Write it down. Don’t leave out anything. Then, when this madness is over, share it with the world.” 

 

“To what end?”


“To make certain no one forgets.”


I thought about the magnitude of what he asked. “There has been so much. I would not know where to begin.”


Weiss gave his small smile. “Ah, yes. Begin at the beginning.” 

 

Excerpted with permission from WOLF:  A Novel by Herbert J. Stern and Alan A. Winter.  Published by Skyhorse Publishing. Copyright (c) 2020.  All rights reserved.  Available at:  AmazonBarnes & Noble, and Indiebound.

 

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Wolf: A Review.

Wolf: A Novel
by Herbert J. Stern & Alan A. Winter

Publication Date: February 11, 2020
Skyhorse
Hardcover & eBook; 552 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

 

 

In the Great Tradition of Herman Wouk, Author of Winds of War and War and Remembrance, Wolf is a Thoroughly Researched and Illustrated Historical Novel about a Man who is Not Yet a Monster . . . but Will Soon Become the Ultimate One: Adolf Hitler.

Perhaps no man on Earth is more controversial, more hated, or more studied than Adolf Hitler. His exploits and every move are well-documented, from the time he first became chancellor and then-dictator of Germany to starting World War II to the systematic killing of millions of Jews. But how did he achieve power, and what was the makeup of the mind of a man who would deliberately inflict unimaginable horrors on millions of people?

Meet Friedrich Richard, an amnesiac soldier who, in 1918, encounters Hitler in the mental ward at Pasewalk Hospital. Hitler, then a corporal, diagnosed as a psychopath and helpless, suffering from hysterical blindness, introduces himself as Wolf to Friedrich and becomes dependent upon Friedrich for assistance, forming an unbreakable bond between the two men.

Follow Friedich—our protagonist—who interacts with real people, places, and events, through the fifteen-year friendship that witnesses Hitler turn from a quiet painter into a megalomaniacal dictator. Using brand-new historical research to construct a realistic portrait of the evolving Hitler, Wolf will satisfy, by turns, history buffs and fiction fans alike. And as this complex story is masterfully presented, it answers the question of how a nondescript man became the world’s greatest monster.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound

Praise

“Adolf Hitler anointed himself with the name, Wolf, then plotted and connived with remorseless determination to become Der Fuhrer, Dictator, Savior of the Fatherland. As in ancient Greek drama, we know the ending to the story. The riddle is how we get there….A Hitler we did not know existed emerges page by page, all his bits and pieces, certain of his role as Savior of Germany, evil, driven, shrewd, an unrepentant, serial seducer of teenage girls, surrounded by toadies as ruthless as himself but not nearly so smart—his rise and words an unnerving parallel as we witness the continued erosion of democracy today in our own sweet land. Put this book on the shelf with Ludlum, Michener, and Clavell. Wolf deserves to be in their company.” —Stephen Foreman, author of Toehold, Watching Gideon, and Journey, and screenwriter of The Jazz Singer, Hostage, and America the Beautiful

“Based on extensive research, the extraordinary novel Wolf, by Herbert J. Stern and Alan A. Winter, lifts the curtain so that the reader can observe through the eyes of a fictional character how a seemingly unremarkable corporal who was denied a promotion for lack of ‘leadership ability’ became dictator of Germany. The result is a gripping page-turner, a masterful historical novel.” —The Jewish Voice

“Wolf offers a front row seat to the Nazi Party’s early years, expertly using the fictional protagonist Friedrich Richard to take the reader on a fifteen-year journey from the end of the First World War to Adolf Hitler’s seizure of absolute power in Germany. The reader experiences the gradual death of democracy in Weimar Germany like a slow-motion train wreck, equally fascinated and horrified. We all know how Hitler’s Thousand Year Reich ended, but Wolf shows us how the nightmare began. A compelling, thoroughly researched, and important work. Wolf is an impressive achievement. Exhaustively researched and richly detailed, it draws on new historical research to paint a fascinating portrait of Adolph Hitler that is more human and recognizable than most depictions—and thus even more chilling and sobering.” —Alex DeMille, co-author of The Deserter with bestselling author Nelson DeMille

“Wolf will incite intense discussion in historical circles and book clubs alike. It is a poignant, persuasive, and ultimately terrifying story of how one man came to bend the path of history through oppression and genocide by taking one step at a time.” —Amy Wilhelm, senior writer, Book Club Babble

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I first heard about this book when Amy, our tour organizer mentioned it was up for review. As I’ve still been somewhat of a slump, I was looking for something that would really engage my mind and keep me reading. A unique sounding novel, Wolf sounded promising. Well. I was not anticipating this. This is truly a stunning piece of literature. It’s riviting, fascinating and it draws you in. If you’re like me, you may try to see a human side to ‘Wolf.’

I know that sounds insane, so allow me a moment to explain, you always see Hitler as how he was as a dictator, at his full amount of power. But my mind always wonders, what led him to where he was? What was he like? Did something happen to get him there?

In Wolf, we see him and it is equal parts terrifying and interesting because as a reader, we know what he becomes. We know what lay ahead and it literally feels like a roller coaster that is heading off the rails–you’re not getting off. You’re far too involved and invested. It’s a truly astonishing.  The research gone  into this work is to be praised. I don’t think there’s anything about this that they didn’t research. I am always a sucker for good research.  It felt so real, so visceral. 

I learned so much and I also learned, there is no sense in trying to humanize him. I absolutely enjoyed this book and its unique view. It certainly opened up my eyes.

 

About the Authors

Herbert J. Stern, formerly US attorney for the District of New Jersey, who prosecuted the mayors of Newark, Jersey City and Atlantic City, and served as judge of the US District Court for the District of New Jersey, is a trial lawyer. He also served as judge of the United States Court for Berlin. There he presided over a hijacking trial in the occupied American Sector of West Berlin. His book about the case, Judgment in Berlin, won the 1974 Freedom Foundation Award and became a film starring Martin Sheen and Sean Penn. He also wrote Diary of a DA: The True Story of the Prosecutor Who Took on the Mob, Fought Corruption, and Won, as well as the multi-volume legal work Trying Cases to Win.

Alan A. Winter is the author of four novels, including Island Bluffs, Snowflakes in the Sahara, Someone Else’s Son, and Savior’s Day, which Kirkus selected as a Best Book of 2013. Winter graduated from Rutgers University with a degree in history and has professional degrees from both New York University and Columbia, where he was an associate professor for many years. He edited an award-winning journal and has published more than twenty professional articles. Alan studied creative writing at Columbia’s Graduate School of General Studies. His screenplay, Polly, received honorable mention in the Austin Film Festival, and became the basis for Island Bluffs.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, February 3
Review at Books and Zebras

Tuesday, February 4
Review at YA, It’s Lit

Wednesday, February 5
Excerpt at Donna’s Book Blog

Friday, February 7
Review at Tales from the Book Dragon

Saturday, February 8
Review at Reading is My Remedy

Monday, February 10
Review at Gwendalyn’s Books
Review & Excerpt at Clarissa Reads It All

Tuesday, February 11
Excerpt at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, February 12
Feature at The Caffeinated Bibliophile

Thursday, February 13
Review at Impressions In Ink

Friday, February 14
Feature at CelticLady’s Reviews

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a paperback copy of Wolf! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on February 14th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Paperback giveaway is to the US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

Wolf

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Prue: A Book Blast!

Prue
by AnneMarie Brear

Publication Date: January 23, 2020
eBook & Paperback; 328 Pages

Series: The Marsh Sagas, Book Two
Genre: Historical Romance

 

 

When her feisty grandmama informs Prue of her intentions to take her travelling, she is excited and ready to explore outside of England.

Restless, unsure of what she needs and wants, Prue arrives in India intent on adventure. However, Prue soon learns that some escapades come with a price. India is exotic and tantalising, yet also rife with unrest, and closer to home, family secrets unravel destroying lives.

Leaving India and heartbreak behind her, a wiser Prue travels to Italy. Experiencing that life is short, Prue is determined to make the most of her holiday and have some fun, only she wasn’t prepared to meet a man who would make her question herself.

Surviving the war was easier than enduring the quiet peace at home. In need of distraction, Brandon Forster and his friend, Vince, spend their time climbing mountains in Europe. The last thing Brandon expected was to meet an attractive English rose with the same edgy spirit as himself.

When Prue reveals her past mistakes to Brandon, he must decide if she is the woman for him, but a tragic accident makes them both confront deeper feelings.

Can they find in each other the missing element they need to make them whole or will previous anguish taint their future?

Amazon | Barnes and Noble

About the Author

Amazon UK bestseller and award-winning Australian author, AnneMarie Brear has been a life-long reader and started writing in 1997 when her children were small. She has a love of history, of grand old English houses and a fascination of what might have happened beyond their walls. Her interests include reading, historical research for her novels, watching movies, spending time with family and eating chocolate – not always in that order!

For more information please visit AnneMarie Brear’s website. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Goodreads.

Book Blast Schedule

Thursday, January 23
Books In Their Natural Habitat

Friday, January 24
Gwendalyn’s Books

Saturday, January 25
Historical Fiction with Spirit

Sunday, January 26
Jessica Belmont

Monday, January 27
Broken Teepee

Tuesday, January 28
CelticLady’s Reviews
What Is That Book About

Wednesday, January 29
Donna’s Book Blog

Thursday, January 30
The Lit Bitch
Clarissa Reads it All
The Book Junkie Reads

Friday, January 31
Passages to the Past

Saturday, February 1
100 Pages a Day

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour, we are giving away an eBook of Prue by AnneMarie Brear! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on February 1st. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Paperback giveaway is open to the US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

Prue

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Top Ten Tuesday.

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Hey, look at me, I did it on time this week!

As I’m huge into historical fiction, I thought I’d do the Top Ten Historical Fiction Covers that I love. Some have such gorgeous covers that I can’t stop staring. They may say not to judge a book by its cover…but I think that we all do it to a certain extent. I’m including some upcoming titles too. I hope you enjoy the list! I know we don’t have the same taste, but I’d love to hear what you like about covers too. ❤

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The Last Train to Key West comes out later this year, but as with the first two books by Ms. Cleeton, I am just blown away by the beautiful cover. I’m sad this is the end of this particular series that she’s writing, but I am looking quite forward to future books. I absolutely adore these covers and I love these books. If you’d like to hear my thoughts on Next Year In Havana, you can check that out here.  If you’d like to hear the synopsis of When We Left Cuba, you can read that right here.

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Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker is one of my favorites, given that we’re given a look into Elizabeth Keckley’s life. Once a slave who became a free-woman and eventually the titular character. She was a fascinating woman and one who history seemingly ignores. If you want to read my review. You know what to do. 😉 Resistance Women is one of the books I mean to read still and Mrs. Lincoln’s Sisters is coming out later this year. Color me excited. 😀

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I love these covers because they’re eyecatching. They’re brightly colored and they just catch you, inviting you into the world within. Whether it be Revolutionary Russia or Colonial America. The same with the novels below. There’s something about a colorful cover that has such appeal to me. 5

Here are some upcoming releases with some stunning covers…3

I can’t wait to read The Queen’s Secret and The Girl in White Gloves. I’ve already read ‘And They Called It Camelot’ and I can’t wait to share my review. I want to wait a little closer to release day, but I will tell you, it’s a beautiful read and really gives you insight into Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ life. (I was also beyond amazed to see my name in the acknowledgments. STILL FLAILING!!!)

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Courting Mr. Lincoln (Spotlight)

It’s been a terribly long while since I’ve done a spotlight, so I thought I would change that. I’m excited to say that I am part of this upcoming blog tour, and you can swing back around on February 12th to read my review. Those of you who are history fans know that’s Mr. Lincoln’s birthday and when the opportunity to share on that day popped up, I hopped right on it. I’m sure you are also aware, if you’re a long-time reader, that I am something of a ‘fangirl’ when it comes to the Lincoln family. This particular book has an interesting viewpoint; contemplating if a close friend was perhaps more. Historically, there are things to support it and it’s long been speculated that Lincoln and Joshua Speed were closer than friends. (And even if it’s true, I shall never think anything less of President Lincoln.)

Some of you may have read it already since it came out in hardcover last year. This is the paperback cover, which I think is quite lovely.

Rather obvious too, which is our 16th President on the cover. 😉

 

Click the image to pre-order!

 

A page-turning novel about the brilliant, melancholic future president and the two people who knew him best: his handsome and charming confidant (and roommate), Joshua Speed, and the spirited young debutante Mary Todd.

Washington Post Bestseller
A May Indie Next Pick
An Apple Books Best of the Month for April
A People Magazine Best Book of the Week

“Exquisite.” —People
“A triumph of a novel.” —Bookreporter.com
“Rich, fascinating, and romantic.” —Newsday

When Mary Todd meets Abraham Lincoln in Springfield in the winter of 1840, he is on no one’s shortlist to be president. A country lawyer living above a dry goods shop, he is lacking both money and manners, and his gift for oratory surprises those who meet him. Mary, a quick, self-possessed debutante with an interest in debates and elections, at first finds him an enigma. “I can only hope,” she tells his roommate, the handsome, charming Joshua Speed, “that his waters being so very still, they also run deep.”

It’s not long, though, before she sees the Lincoln that Speed knows: an amiable, profound man who, despite his awkwardness, has a gentle wit to match his genius, and who respects her keen political mind. But as her relationship with Lincoln deepens, she must confront his inseparable friendship with Speed, who has taught his roommate how to dance, dress, and navigate the polite society of Springfield.

Told in the alternating voices of Mary Todd and Joshua Speed, and inspired by historical events, Courting Mr. Lincoln creates a sympathetic and complex portrait of Mary unlike any that has come before; a moving portrayal of the deep and very real connection between the two men; and most of all, an evocation of the unformed man who would grow into one of the nation’s most beloved presidents. Louis Bayard, a master storyteller, delivers here a page-turning tale of love, longing, and forbidden possibilities.

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Amazon | B&N | IndieBound | Powell’s | BAM | iBooks


Untitled-1Louis Bayard
 is a New York Times Notable Book author and has been shortlisted for both the Edgar and Dagger awards for his historical thrillers, which include The Pale Blue Eye and Mr. Timothy. His most recent novel was the critically acclaimed young-adult title Lucky Strikes. He lives in Washington, D.C., and teaches at George Washington University; he is a board member for the PEN Faulkner Foundation and the author of the popular Downton Abbey recaps for the New York Times. Visit him online at http://www.louisbayard.com.

 

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Flashback Friday…

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So…since I’ve been rather lax as of late. I figured my Flashback Friday could also be my belated Top Ten Tuesday post. I’m aware that I am about a month behind on those, but be kind and let me pretend catching up is possible.

I have also been distracted since the passing of my grandmother. (Bumpy start to 2020, I tell you.) That said, I am trying my best, guys. Mental health, grief, genuine blogger fatigue, the whole nine yards.

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Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

The theme is…the last ten additions to my bookshelves.

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  1. The Book of Gutsy Women by Hillary and Chelsea Clinton.
  2. Things In Jars by Jess Kidd
  3. Woven in Moonlight by Isabel Ibanez
  4. Dangerous Alliance by Jennifer Cohen
  5. Conceal, Don’t Feel by Jen Calonita
  6. The God Game by Danny Tobey
  7. Deal with the Devil by Kit Rocha.
  8. Metropolis by Ellie Midwood
  9. The Companion by Kim Taylor Blakemore
  10. Girls of Storm and Shadow by Natasha Ngan

It’s a colorful collection, isn’t it? I have to reread the first book from Natasha Ngan, because I’ve forgotten some details and I don’t like being confused when reading the next book in a series.

The Book of Gutsy Women is a fun read, as I have said previously. Regardless of your politics, the focus is on varying women and their contributions to the world. It’s a great read if you’re into HERStory. History is so male dominated, that any chance I get to read about a woman, I take the opportunity. Highly recommend to the parents out there; teach your kids early, that they took can claim a spot in history. I wish there had been more books like this when I was young.

Fun fact: I received The God Game and Deal With The Devil on the same day. I had a good laugh over that timing. Sometimes the universe times things beautifully.

It’s a quirky little list, but I suspect no one is surprised by this. I keep it a touch on the eclectic side. Have you guys read any of these? I’m not sure which I plan to read next, so I welcome, as always, your opinions and thoughts.

For now…sleep sounds like a fun plan. 😴😴😴

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I’ve got (2020) vision.

It’s 1.09 am and I’m wide awake.

My brain won’t shut off and as I look at my kindle, I’m struck by how many ARCs I have and how many I never actually got to. It is very disappointing but it also made me realize that this could be a factor in why I get “blogger burnout”, of which I am in the midst of now, thus explaining my lack of posts. I think the pressure of deadlines gets to me, as well as realizing that I have plenty of books that I haven’t even touched yet. There are many ‘old’ (but still very loved) books that I just never found time for because I was reading ARCs or I just didn’t feel like reading. I hate that I get to that point, where reading feels like a chore. It should never feel that way. I had made a promise to myself that the minute this wasn’t fun anymore, I’d walk away. I’m at that point and I have stepped away. (Not walked. Simply…stepped.)

The problem (it’s not a problem, per se) is that I love blogging. I do love reading and I love talking to you guys about things I’m excited about. It’s quite addicting, to say the least. Thus, I stepped away. I tried to post. But I didn’t post what I wrote because it is blatantly obvious that I was phoning it in, as they say. (Who is ‘they’? Anyone out there know?)  I’m a firm believer in giving all or nothing.

So, what is the point here?

The point is….I’m going to focus on whatever books I want. Some will be new. Some will be old. But they’ll be my choices. No deadlines, no bullshitting, no any of that. This is the year I take back my pleasure.

Will I still promote new books?

Absolutely! Spotlights, guest posts, by all means! But I may forego reading them right away because there’s a lot I want to catch up on.

At the moment, I’m reading the third book in The Dresden Files series. Pretty sure it came out in the early 2000’s but who cares? A good book is good whenever you get to it. I’m looking forward to sharing my review. As bloggers, we get so caught up in things that are new that I feel well do a disservice to ourselves and authors. I won’t do that anymore. It’s also why I chose to only pick 15 books on my Goodreads Challenge. Not aiming too high. That way if I reach my goal, anything else is an added bonus.

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I’m going to say that I have joined some book tours and I admit, I’ve been very choosey about them. Still, very excited about them and I hope you will be too. Also aiming to get more into audiobooks! As you can see, I’ve got plenty to choose from. Even though I’ve read Ribbons of Scarlet, I think I’ll probably start with that one because if you’re like me, you’ll pronounce something one way, and you’re about a thousand miles off. I love French words, but my pronunciation leaves much to be desired. After that, I think The Stuart Vampire (as read by Andrea Zuvich herself alongside her husband!) and then The Picture of Dorian Gray, as read by Ben Barnes. (Anyone who knows me knows that I love me some Ben. So yes, that was a lot of fun to grab up. He’s an excellent reader too. I listened to a sample and found myself being drawn off to another world, which was exactly what I hoped for. Also, speaking of Ben–can’t wait to see him in Shadow and Bone later this year. That’s another series I need to finish.) 

Another series I’d like to read this year is The Witcher. (Toss a coin to your witcher…) I had no idea there was a series of books! I knew there were games, of which I am playing on Xbox actually. Very fun thus far. (SpockSocks86, if anyone plays. <3) Big fan of Henry Cavill; I have been since he was in The Tudors. I am quite looking forward to reading the books. There’s something about fantasy that I love. Perhaps I’m looking for something to take the place of Game of Thrones…or even Harry Potter. Just something…gritty and full of action and fantastic beasts. Have any of you read the books? Or just watched the series and would like to talk about it? I enjoyed the series, hate waiting until 2021…but c’est la vie. Let’s hope the wait doesn’t disappoint. (Looking at you, season 8 of GOT.)

Speaking of someone who should read audiobooks…

And on this note, I leave you. Enjoy!

 

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First Post of the Year.

Happy New Year, everyone! 

I know I’ve been MIA, that tends to happen with me around this time of year. I don’t know if it’s a seasonal thing, or I just am burnt out, but I really do need to work on that. I hope you all had the happiest of holiday seasons! Mine was…quiet. But I don’t mind it much. I figured I’d do a post about some titles I’m excited about. I ordered my Book of the Month books, so here’s a spotlight on them!

Things in Jars

Bridie Devine—female detective extraordinaire—is confronted with the most baffling puzzle yet: the kidnapping of Christabel Berwick, the secret daughter of Sir Edmund Athelstan Berwick, and a peculiar child whose reputed supernatural powers have captured the unwanted attention of collectors trading curiosities in this age of discovery.

Winding her way through the labyrinthine, sooty streets of Victorian London, Bridie won’t rest until she finds the young girl, even if it means unearthing a past that she’d rather keep buried. Luckily, her search is aided by an enchanting cast of characters, including a seven-foot-tall housemaid; a melancholic, tattoo-covered ghost; and an avuncular apothecary. But secrets abound in this foggy underworld where spectacle is king and nothing is quite what it seems.

Blending darkness and light, history and folklore, Things in Jars is a spellbinding Gothic mystery that collapses the boundary between fact and fairy tale to stunning effect and explores what it means to be human in inhumane times.

Woven in Moonlight

A lush tapestry of magic, romance, and revolución, drawing inspiration from Bolivian politics and history.

Ximena is the decoy Condesa, a stand-in for the last remaining Illustrian royal. Her people lost everything when the usurper, Atoc, used an ancient relic to summon ghosts and drive the Illustrians from La Ciudad. Now Ximena’s motivated by her insatiable thirst for revenge.

Ximena is the decoy Condesa, a stand-in for the last remaining Illustrian royal. Her people lost everything when the usurper, Atoc, used an ancient relic to summon ghosts and drive the Illustrians from La Ciudad. Now Ximena’s motivated by her insatiable thirst for revenge, and her rare ability to spin thread from moonlight. When Atoc demands the real Condesa’s hand in marriage, it’s Ximena’s duty to go in her stead. She relishes the chance, as Illustrian spies have reported that Atoc’s no longer carrying his deadly relic.

If Ximena can find it, she can return the true aristócrata to their rightful place. She hunts for the relic, using her weaving ability to hide messages in tapestries for the resistance. But when a masked vigilante, a warm-hearted princess, and a thoughtful healer challenge Ximena, her mission becomes more complicated. There could be a way to overthrow the usurper without starting another war, but only if Ximena turns her back on revenge—and her Condesa.

Dangerous Alliance

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue meets Jane Austen in this witty, winking historical romance with a dash of mystery!

Lady Victoria Aston has everything she could want: an older sister happily wed, the future of her family estate secure, and ample opportunity to while her time away in the fields around her home.

But now Vicky must marry—or find herself and her family destitute. Armed only with the wisdom she has gained from her beloved novels by Jane Austen, she enters society’s treacherous season.

Sadly, Miss Austen has little to say about Vicky’s exact circumstances: whether the roguish Mr. Carmichael is indeed a scoundrel, if her former best friend, Tom Sherborne, is out for her dowry or for her heart, or even how to fend off the attentions of the foppish Mr. Silby, he of the unfortunate fashion sensibility.

Most unfortunately of all, Vicky’s books are silent on the topic of the mysterious accidents cropping up around her…ones that could prevent her from surviving until her wedding day.

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Another book I’m expecting is Gutsy Women, written by Hillary Clinton and her daughter, Chelsea. No matter one’s politics, the topic is fascinating and I love to learn about women in history. HERStory isn’t taught enough and it should be.

The Book of Gutsy Women

Hillary Rodham Clinton and her daughter, Chelsea, share the stories of the gutsy women who have inspired them—women with the courage to stand up to the status quo, ask hard questions, and get the job done.

She couldn’t have been more than seven or eight years old. “Go ahead, ask your question,” her father urged, nudging her forward. She smiled shyly and said, “You’re my hero. Who’s yours?”

Many people—especially girls—have asked us that same question over the years. It’s one of our favorite topics.

HILLARY: Growing up, I knew hardly any women who worked outside the home. So I looked to my mother, my teachers, and the pages of Life magazine for inspiration. After learning that Amelia Earhart kept a scrapbook with newspaper articles about successful women in male-dominated jobs, I started a scrapbook of my own. Long after I stopped clipping articles, I continued to seek out stories of women who seemed to be redefining what was possible.

CHELSEA: This book is the continuation of a conversation the two of us have been having since I was little. For me, too, my mom was a hero; so were my grandmothers. My early teachers were also women. But I grew up in a world very different from theirs. My pediatrician was a woman, and so was the first mayor of Little Rock who I remember from my childhood. Most of my close friends’ moms worked outside the home as nurses, doctors, teachers, professors, and in business. And women were going into space and breaking records here on Earth.

Ensuring the rights and opportunities of women and girls remains a big piece of the unfinished business of the twenty-first century. While there’s a lot of work to do, we know that throughout history and around the globe women have overcome the toughest resistance imaginable to win victories that have made progress possible for all of us. That is the achievement of each of the women in this book.

So how did they do it? The answers are as unique as the women themselves. Civil rights activist Dorothy Height, LGBTQ trailblazer Edie Windsor, and swimmer Diana Nyad kept pushing forward, no matter what. Writers like Rachel Carson and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie named something no one had dared talk about before. Historian Mary Beard used wit to open doors that were once closed, and Wangari Maathai, who sparked a movement to plant trees, understood the power of role modeling. Harriet Tubman and Malala Yousafzai looked fear in the face and persevered. Nearly every single one of these women was fiercely optimistic—they had faith that their actions could make a difference. And they were right.

To us, they are all gutsy women—leaders with the courage to stand up to the status quo, ask hard questions, and get the job done. So in the moments when the long haul seems awfully long, we hope you will draw strength from these stories. We do. Because if history shows one thing, it’s that the world needs gutsy women.

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Titles I’m looking forward to….

It’s that time of the year where I put some of my Winter 2020 reads that I’m dying to read! I can’t believe that 2019 is almost at an end, how about you? It’s wild. Another decade done; a new one just about to begin. I’m still hoping for a revival of the Roarin’ Twenties, but at this rate, I’ll take anything that’s cheerful and fun. It seems the news gets worse daily, doesn’t it? Well, here’s some news–these books are coming out in the next few months and they sound amazing! So, let me shut up and give you what you want. 😉

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During the sweltering Roman summer of 1492, Rodrigo Borgia has risen to power as pope. Rodrigo’s eldest son Cesare, forced to follow his father into the church and newly made the Archbishop of Valencia, chafes at his ecclesiastical role and fumes with jealousy and resentment at the way that his foolish brother has been chosen for the military greatness he desired.

Maddalena Moretti comes from the countryside, where she has seen how the whims of powerful men wreak havoc on the lives of ordinary people. But now, employed as a servant in the Vatican Palace, she cannot help but be entranced by Cesare Borgia’s handsome face and manner and finds her faith and conviction crumbling in her want of him.

As war rages and shifting alliances challenge the pope’s authority, Maddalena and Cesare’s lives grow inexplicably entwined. Maddalena becomes a keeper of dangerous Borgia secrets and must decide if she is willing to be a pawn in the power games of the man she loves. And as jealousy and betrayal threaten to tear apart the Borgia family from within, Cesare is forced to reckon with his seemingly limitless ambition.

Alyssa Palombo’s captivating new novel, The Borgia Confessions, is a story of passion, politics, and class, set against the rise and fall of one of Italy’s most infamous families–the Borgias.

Release Date: February 11th, 2020

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45479418A life in snapshots…

Grace knows what people see. She’s the Cinderella story. An icon of glamor and elegance froze in dazzling Technicolor. The picture of perfection. The girl in white gloves.

A woman in living color…

But behind the lens, beyond the panoramic views of glistening Mediterranean azure, she knows the truth. The sacrifices it takes for an unappreciated girl from Philadelphia to defy her family and become the reigning queen of the screen. The heartbreaking reasons she trades Hollywood for a crown. The loneliness of being a princess in a fairy tale kingdom that is all too real.
Hardest of all for her adoring fans and loyal subjects to comprehend is the harsh reality that to be the most envied woman in the world does not mean she is the happiest. Starved for affection and purpose, facing a labyrinth of romantic and social expectations with more twists and turns than Monaco’s infamous winding roads, Grace must find her own way to fulfillment. But what she risks–her art, her family, her marriage—she may never get back.

Release Date: February 25th, 2020

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43908877A historical YA horror novel based on the infamous real-life inspiration for Countess Dracula

In 17th century Hungary, Anna Darvulia has just begun working as a scullery maid for the young and glamorous Countess Elizabeth Báthory. When Elizabeth takes a liking to Anna, she’s vaulted to the dream role of a chambermaid, a far cry from the filthy servants’ quarters below. She receives wages generous enough to provide for her family, and the Countess begins to groom Anna as her friend and confidante.

It’s not long before Anna falls completely under the Countess’s spell—and the Countess takes full advantage. Isolated from her former friends, family, and fiancé, Anna realizes she’s not a friend but a prisoner of the increasingly cruel Elizabeth. Then come the murders, and Anna knows it’s only a matter of time before the Blood Countess turns on her, too.

Release Date: January 28th, 2020

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New from Marie Benedict, the New York Times bestselling author of The Only Woman in the Room! An incredible novel that focuses on one of the people who had the most influence during World War I and World War II: Clementine Churchill.

In 1909, Clementine Churchill steps off a train with her new husband, Winston. An angry woman emerges from the crowd to attack, shoving him in the direction of an oncoming train. Just before he stumbles, Clementine grabs him by his suit jacket. This will not be the last time Clementine Churchill saves her husband.

Lady Clementine is the ferocious story of the brilliant and ambitious woman beside Winston Churchill, the story of a partner who did not flinch through the sweeping darkness of war, and who would not surrender either to expectations or to enemies.

Release Date: January 7th, 2020

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New York, 1910: A city of magnificent skyscrapers and winding subways, where poor immigrants are crammed into tenements while millionaires thrive in Fifth Avenue mansions. Vera Garland is a thirty-two-year-old journalist, fighting alongside hundreds of women for a place in society, only to meet hurdles around every turn. Most female journalists are delegated to the fashion and lifestyle pages but like her hero, Nellie Bly, Vera is a fighter.

When news of the Hope Diamond—a jewel whose infamous legends and curses have captured the world’s attention—arrives in the city, Vera is fast on its trail. She’s certain the fabulous jewel will help jumpstart her career but she’s determined to seek revenge against her current employer, a magazine owner whose greed and blackmailing schemes led to the death of her beloved father.

Set against the backdrop of New York’s glitter and grit, this enchanting historical novel explores the very human desire for truth, equality, and retribution.

Release Date: January 28th, 2020

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47812578. sy475 The year is 1911 when twenty-year-old heiress Peggy Batternberg is invited to spend the summer in America’s Playground.

The invitation to the luxurious Oriental Hotel a mile from Coney Island is unwelcome. Despite hailing from one of America’s richest families, Peggy would much rather spend the summer working at the Moonrise Bookstore than keeping up appearances with New York City socialites and her snobbish, controlling family.

But soon it transpires that the hedonism of nearby Coney Island affords Peggy the freedom she has been yearning for, and it’s not long before she finds herself in love with a troubled pier-side artist of humble means, whom the Batternberg patriarchs would surely disapprove of.

Disapprove they may, but hidden behind their pomposity lurks a web of deceit, betrayal and deadly secrets. And as bodies begin to mount up amidst the sweltering clamour of Coney Island, it seems the powerful Batternbergs can get away with anything…even murder.

Extravagant, intoxicating and thumping with suspense, bestselling Nancy Bilyeau’s magnificent Dreamland is a story of corruption, class and dangerous obsession.

Release Date: January 16th, 2020

**I’m delighted to say, I’ll be on this Blog Tour! Come by 14th January for my review!
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45180539American journalist Milly Bennett has covered murders in San Francisco, fires in Hawaii, and a civil war in China, but 1930s Moscow presents her greatest challenge yet. When her young Russian husband is suddenly arrested by the secret police, Milly tries to get him released. But his arrest reveals both painful secrets about her marriage and hard truths about the Soviet state she has been working to serve.

Disillusioned and pulled toward the front lines of a captivating new conflict, Milly must find a way to do the right thing for her husband, her conscience, and her heart. Salt the Snow is a vivid and impeccably researched tale of a woman ahead of her time, searching for her true calling in life and love.

Release Date: February 4th, 2020

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44778083#1 New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas launches her brand-new CRESCENT CITY series with House of Earth and Blood: the story of half-Fae and half-human Bryce Quinlan as she seeks revenge in a contemporary fantasy world of magic, danger, and searing romance.

Bryce Quinlan had the perfect life—working hard all day and partying all night—until a demon murdered her closest friends, leaving her bereft, wounded, and alone. When the accused is behind bars but the crimes start up again, Bryce finds herself at the heart of the investigation. She’ll do whatever it takes to avenge their deaths.

Hunt Athalar is a notorious Fallen angel, now enslaved to the Archangels he once attempted to overthrow. His brutal skills and incredible strength have been set to one purpose—to assassinate his boss’s enemies, no questions asked. But with a demon wreaking havoc in the city, he’s offered an irresistible deal: help Bryce find the murderer, and his freedom will be within reach.

As Bryce and Hunt dig deep into Crescent City’s underbelly, they discover a dark power that threatens everything and everyone they hold dear, and they find, in each other, a blazing passion—one that could set them both free, if they’d only let it.

With unforgettable characters, sizzling romance, and page-turning suspense, this richly inventive new fantasy series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas delves into the heartache of loss, the price of freedom—and the power of love.

Release Date: March 3rd, 2020

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A riveting memoir of family, the Holocaust, and the search for truth

Esther Safran Foer grew up in a home where the past was too terrible to speak of. The child of parents who were each the sole survivors of their respective families, for Esther the Holocaust loomed in the backdrop of daily life, felt but never discussed. The result was a childhood marked by painful silences and continued tragedy. Even as she built a successful career, married, and raised three children, Esther always felt herself searching.

So when Esther’s mother casually mentions an astonishing revelation–that her father had a previous wife and daughter, both killed in the Holocaust–Esther resolves to find out who they were, and how her father survived. Armed with only a black-and-white photo and a hand-drawn map, she travels to Ukraine, determined to find the shtetl where her father hid during the war. What she finds reshapes her identity and gives her the opportunity to finally mourn.

I Want You to Know We’re Still Here is the poignant and deeply moving story not only of Esther’s journey but of four generations living in the shadow of the Holocaust. They are four generations of survivors, storytellers, and memory keepers, determined not just to keep the past alive but to imbue the present with life and more life.

Release Date: March 31st, 2020

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46382692. sy475 An intimate portrait of the life of Jackie O…

Few of us can claim to be the authors of our fate. Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy knows no other choice. With the eyes of the world watching, Jackie uses her effortless charm and keen intelligence to carve a place for herself among the men of history and weave a fairy tale for the American people, embodying a senator’s wife, a devoted mother, a First Lady—a queen in her own right.

But all reigns must come to an end. Once JFK travels to Dallas and the clock ticks down those thousand days of magic in Camelot, Jackie is forced to pick up the ruined fragments of her life and forge herself into a new identity that is all her own, that of an American legend.

Release Date: March 10th, 2020

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Auschwitz Syndrome: Review & Guest Post.

46868160. sy475 Publication Date: October 11, 2019
eBook & Paperback; 364 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

 

 

Germany, 1947.

A strange case scheduled for the Denazification Court lands on the desk of an American psychiatrist currently serving in Germany, Dr. Hoffman.

A former Auschwitz guard, Franz Dahler, is set to appear in court, and he has requested to bring the most unexpected witness to testify in his defense – one of his former inmates and current wife, Helena.

As soon as one of the newly emerging Nazi hunters and former Auschwitz inmate, Andrej Novák, recognizes the officer’s name, he demands a full investigation of Dahler’s crimes, claiming that the former SS man was not only abusing Helena in the camp but is also using her as a ploy to escape prosecution.

Silent, subdued, and seemingly dependent on her husband’s every word, Helena appears to be a classic victim of abuse, and possibly more of an aid to the prosecution instead of the defense.

As she begins giving her testimony, Dr. Hoffman finds himself more and more confused at the picture that gradually emerges before his eyes; a perpetrator is claimed to be the savior and the accuser, the criminal.

The better Dr. Hoffman gets to know each participant, the more he begins to question himself; whether he’s facing a most unimaginable love story, or a new and still-nameless psychological disorder affecting the very manner in which Helena sees the events of the past.

Partially based on a true story, this deeply psychological, haunting novel will take you back in time to the heart of Auschwitz and post-war Germany, and will keep you guessing the true motive of each side.

AVAILABLE ON AMAZON

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Firstly: my deepest apologies to Ms. Midwood for the lateness. I’ve only had mobile internet for the last few days. -_- 

The Holocaust is something that I think everyone should take the time to reflect upon. It’s something I do after I read a book based on World War II; always mindful of that horrible event. I can’t imagine, despite all of the stories, the proof, everything, how horrible it truly was. The older I get, the more I learn. I had the honor of visiting the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC back in 2001, months before 9/11. It’s stayed with me. As time goes on, of course, the emotion fades slightly, the awe, the wonder, the horror…and it all came back as I read this story.

I’m not going to rehash the synopsis for you. To do so would be useless, but I will tell you, it’s a true story. You can look on YouTube and other books to read it. It was definitely a book that got you thinking about a lot of things. In a Death Camp, how is it possible that love can grow? How is it possible that love could change a heart that was hardened by hatred? The story here is multi-layered but is still remarkable for the simple truth, love trumps all. I never in a million years would have thought such a thing possible. I have only come to know as I grow older that small acts of kindness did occur in such dire places. It’s awe-inspiring if you think about it. The Holocaust was, and remains, one of the biggest tragedies (and even that word does not seem vast enough to encompass it.) the world has ever seen. Yet, to know that love grew there, and even saved some lives is utterly remarkable.

Helena gives the impression that she is reliant upon her husband, but she is there in his defense. It baffles those present and makes one wonder if she’s suffering from Stockholm Syndrome. Was she insane? Were her memories of that time twisted? Had Franz made her believe this so she would live? Given that it’s 1972 and after the war ended, he spent two years looking for her…I tend to believe it was genuine love. There’s so many questions and whilst they are answered, you still wonder, deep down, if it was the truth. I do believe it. I have to believe that love really can overcome any obstacle.

This is not a light read. There is no getting around that. I would suggest taking breaks, but I assure you that you’ll find it worth it to read this. Ms. Midwood is an astounding talent; writing in detail and honesty, never faltering from the truth. I thought this was one of the best reads of 2019 and I know it will stay with me. I’m also certain that whatever she puts out next, I will be most assuredly reading it because this was absolutely brilliant.

If you’re interested in her process….I’ve got a guest post right here for you!
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One of the questions readers ask almost all authors is; “where do you get inspiration for your stories?” Most authors usually reply, “imagination” or “this character just popped into my head and I just had to tell their story.” I have written some books the same way; when a character just appears out of nowhere and starts nagging me to write about them and positively refuses to leave me alone until I do but my favorite inspiration sources, if I’m entirely honest, are real people. As a historical fiction writer, who spends a lot of time researching WWII and the Holocaust, I often come across the most unbelievable stories that leave me speechless and which keep me up at night, as I try to process them and think what possessed people to act this way; what were they feeling when they were risking their lives for someone else; why one person acted this particular way and yet that person’s best friend – in the complete opposite way; why did someone chose oppression and yet someone else died, in the name of freedom?… 

When I first heard about Franz Wunsch and Helena Citrónová’s story, I was a bit stunned, as a researcher. I mean, it’s not every day that you hear about an SS guard in Auschwitz falling in love with a Jewish girl who worked under his charge and when that guard then goes as far as saving, not only her but her sister also, from the gas chamber and later gets arrested by the camp Gestapo for that, that’s definitely one hell of a story, which I knew right away I just had to write about. I wrote the first draft of “Auschwitz Syndrome” in just under two months because their story inspired me to the point where I was waking up each day and thinking only about writing. I read everything I could find about them and was obsessing to get every single detail right. I was fortunate enough, as Helena gave quite a few interviews to the BBC and Franz’s testimony from his trial was also available, during which, he told the story from his point of view, so that definitely made my job easier, research-wise. In the end, I felt like I knew these two people personally and their story became something that just needed to be told. 

I think what inspired me the most about it, is not actually the mere idea of the possibility of romance existing in such horrifying circumstances. What moved me the most was learning about the changes that Franz underwent under Helena’s gentle influence, affecting him so profoundly that he’d later on, actually gotten physically sick while escorting people toward the gas chamber, according to Ernst Müller’s account (you can read more about it in H. Langbein’s study, “People in Auschwitz”, which was one of my primary sources of research) and made him risk his freedom – and life, since Rassenschande (race defilement) was a grave offense for any German, let alone an SS man – for his beloved. Is it true that love is indeed stronger than hate and can change a person if only that person allows themselves to open their eyes – and heart – to the possibility of such a change? It’s such true stories that inspire me the most with their powerful message. If an SS-man could risk his life for a Jewish inmate and if that former Jewish inmate could later come and testify, in his defense, during his trial, we, society in general, can find it in ourselves to be kinder to each other; to learn how to love, instead of hating our differences; to learn forgiveness instead of seeking revenge; to choose light instead of darkness. Such true stories are and will always be my biggest inspiration.