The Romanov Empress
Thank you Penguin Random House #partner for this review copy
“A country where the man of God helps the emperor never dies. This is true” - Alexandra Feodorovna
Barely nineteen, Minnie knows that her station in life as a Danish princess is to leave her family and enter into a royal marriage. The winds of fortune bring Minnie to Russia, where she marries the Romanov heir, Alexander, and once he ascends the throne, becomes empress, Maria.
Her husband's death leaves their son Nicholas as the inexperienced ruler of a deeply divided and crumbling empire. Determined to guide him, Maria faces opposition from Nicholas's strong-willed wife, Alexandra. As the wave of revolution rises anew to engulf Russia, Maria faces her most dangerous challenge and her greatest heartache.
I loved this journey through Russian history form 1862 to 1918. I found it to be a compelling and dramatic portrayal of the Romanov dynasty through the narrative of Maria Feodorovna. Maria was a beautiful, independent and spirited woman who was devoted to her family. It’s a love story as well as a story of the fall of the Romanov empire. I learned more about Russian history and the Romanov empire which I throughly enjoyed! I would recommend this for all historical fiction lovers especially fans of Russian history.
"Life, any life is very short. But if you've managed to be happy at least an instant, it will have been worth living." - The Librarian of Auschwitz
Based on the experience of real-life Auschwitz prisoner, Dita Kraus, this is the incredible story of a girl who risked her life to keep the magic of books alive during the Holocaust. Fourteen-year-old Dita is one of the many imprisoned by the Nazis at Auschwitz. Taken, along with her mother and father, from the Terez ghetto in Prague, Dita is adjusting to the constant terror that is life in the camp. When Jewish leader Freddy Hirsch asks Dita to take charge of the eight precious volumes the prisoners have managed to sneak past the guards, she agrees. And so Dita becomes the librarian of Auschwitz.
I loved this book, however, it’s difficult to describe this book as “good” because of the dark subject matter. It was fascinating to me that the inmates at Auschwitz were able to hide a few books and and use those books to continue to educate the children. The author does include some pretty graphic descriptions of the horrors that occurred at Auschwitz which made this book hard to read at times. It is so important, however, that these stories be told and read and for that reason I highly recommend this book.
“Nobody is who you think they are at first glance. We need to see beyond the projections we cast onto each other. Each of us is so much grander, more nuanced, and more extraordinary than anybody thinks, including ourselves.
Clemantine Wamariya, The Girl Who Smiled Beads
In 1994, Clemantine Wamariya and her fifteen-year-old sister, Claire, flee the Rwandan massacre and spent the next six years migrating through seven African countries, searching for safety and not knowing if their parents are dead or alive. When Clemantine is twelve, she and her sister are granted refugee status in the United States; there, Clemantine is taken in by a family who raises her as their own. She seems to live the American dream, yet the years of being treated as less than human continue to haunt her as her story unfolds.
I loved this book for so many reasons. First of all, I loved the writing style and how beautifully the life and struggles of Clementine were portrayed even though her circumstances were anything but beautiful. Secondly, it opened my eyes to, and gave me more understanding into the plight of refugees around the world and what I can do to help. To me, an exceptional book is one that gives you a new perspective regarding a topic and inspires you to do something or make a change in your own life. This book had that affect on me which is why I would highly recommend it to other readers.