Jewish watchmaker Isaac is captured by the Nazis and transported to Dachau. His skills single him out and he is forced to work directly and personally for Becher. He befriends Anna, another Jew in the household who is serving as a maid but lives in fear of drawing attention to herself. Isaac also begins an unlikely friendship with the Bechers’ son Friedrich who is blissfuly ignorant of the Nazi Final Solution…
I read The Watchmaker of Dachau in a state of trepidation and dread. There are some Holocaust atrocities included which will make your stomach churn with revulsion. However, the author shows the insidious fear that shadowed each and every encounter.
Isaac and Anna’s perspective contrasts wonderfully and terribly with Friedrich’s desperately unhappy childhood. They have both known love and a caring family whilst Friedrich has been indoctrinated with Nazi rhetoric but is deeply unhappy with his parents. We see another perspective, again one of love as Isaac discovers beautifully tragic letters hidden in his work shed.
Kindness, love and hope remain constant despite the devastating reality faced by the Dachau inmates. The book felt very unique to have a child’s viewpoint feature heavily and the juxtaposition of Friedrich’s emotional prison was just as real as the tragedy within the camp. The motif of smelling lemons being indicative of death is tragic yet poignant.
The Watchmaker of Dachau is difficult to read at times due to its powerful topic but overall it is an uplifting book and a privilege to read. The plot weaves together beautifully and I loved how the epilogue brought the strands of the story together.
The Watchmaker of Dachau book description:
An unforgettable novel of human kindness, inspired by an incredible true story.
Snow falls and a woman prepares for a funeral she has long expected, yet hoped would never come. As she pats her hair and straightens her skirt, she tells herself this isn’t the first time she’s lost someone. Lifting a delicate, battered wristwatch from a little box on her dresser, she presses it to her cheek. Suddenly, she’s lost in memory…
January 1945, Dachau, Germany. As the train rattles through the bright, snowy Bavarian countryside, the still beauty outside the window hides the terrible scenes inside the train, where men and women are packed together, cold and terrified. Jewish watchmaker Isaac Schüller can’t understand how he came to be here, and is certain he won’t be leaving alive.
When the prisoners arrive at Dachau concentration camp, Isaac is unexpectedly pulled from the crowd and installed in the nearby household of Senior Officer Becher and his young, pretty, spoiled wife. With his talent for watchmaking, Isaac can be of use to Becher, but he knows his life is only worth something here as long as Becher needs his skills.
Anna Reznick waits table and washes linens for the Bechers, who dine and socialise and carry on as if they don’t constantly have death all around them. When she meets Isaac she knows she’s found a true friend, and maybe more. But Dachau is a dangerous place where you can never take love for granted, and when Isaac discovers a heartbreaking secret hidden in the depths of Becher’s workshop, it will put Anna and Issac in terrible danger…
A gorgeously emotional and tear-jerking read set during World War Two. Perfect for fans of The Tattooist of Auschwitz, We Were the Lucky Ones and The Alice Network.
Carly Schabowski worked as a journalist in both North Cyprus and Australia before returning to Oxford, where she studied for an MA and then a PhD in creative writing at Oxford Brookes University. Carly now teaches at Oxford Brookes University as an associate lecturer in Creative Writing for first and second-year English literature students.
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TRIGGER WARNING: this book deals with sexual topics including necrophilia
An embalmed body is found on a Canadian landfill site, sparking an intense investigation for Detective Eleanor Raven. She is recovering from the emotional and physical damage from her last case and needs to focus on the present as other potential victims go missing…
There is a lot of fallout from the previous book which I have not read. Perfect Little Dolls works well as a stand alone book but I think I would have enjoyed seeing Eleanor’s character journey. I’ll be honest and say that Eleanor is not immediately likeable due to her confrontational personality, however I had definitely warmed to her by halfway through the book.
Eleanor has complex relationships with her colleagues. Guilt and bruised egos fester away and isolate the characters from each other. Eleanor feels like her personal life is under scrutiny by her work partner after revelations in the last book led to the endangerment of her life but she continues to follow her physical needs.
We know from quite early on who is responsible for the discarded body. I was a little disappointed by the ending as I wanted more explanation of the killer’s motives. Having followed him throughout the book, I felt invested in his story so it felt abrupt and left unanswered questions. Indeed, I almost cared about him as I felt there must be some emotional basis for his actions.
Perfect Little Dolls is a fascinating book due to the uniqueness of the lead detective and the perspective of the killer. However, it is not always an easy read due to the intensity of the topic and grisly details of body preservation.
The little boy played with his toy trains in the bedroom, keeping quiet so as not to wake his mother. He stayed silent as he watched his window creaking open and heard the whisper from outside. A minute later, Tommy and the trains were gone.
An unrelenting heatwave sweeps the country and starts a fire which uncovers the charred remains of a young woman. But when DI Eleanor Raven attends the post-mortem it reveals some disturbing details—the girl was dead long before the fire, her body had been lovingly preserved before being dressed up, her hair perfectly arranged, and a lime-green scarf knotted around her neck.
With little evidence surviving the fire, Eleanor and her team have no solid leads. But back on duty after six months’ enforced leave, Eleanor is determined to prove herself fit for service, and she won’t accept that this case could prove impossible.
Following a tenuous link to an old missing-persons case, Eleanor discovers the poor woman’s identity: Giselle Baker was a young dancer at a local bar before she disappeared two years ago, leaving behind a worried roommate and, concealed amongst her things, a curious wooden carving of a snake. Before Eleanor can uncover the significance of the toy though, another woman goes missing, and then, a little boy… It seems that someone is collecting a family for themselves.
As Eleanor battles her own demons, she pushes herself to the limit to find the killer. But her fight to save his last innocent victim may become a battle to save herself…
A totally gripping, fast-paced mystery thriller that will leave your jaw on the floor. The next rollercoaster read for fans of Lisa Regan, Angela Marsons and Robert Dugoni.
Perfect Little Dolls was previously published as The Vault.
Karen Long was born in Wolverhampton but has spent the last few years living in California. She worked as an English and Drama teacher for many years, before becoming a full-time writer.
Karen has written screenplays and articles, but primarily dedicates her time to writing crime fiction and observing wildlife. She loves to travel, which is a great source of inspiration; Toronto became the backdrop to the Eleanor Raven series of thrillers after Karen spent several months there.
A passionate conservationist and lover of the crow family in particular, she has rehabilitated and adopted ravens, crows, magpies and rooks, many of whom became integrated into family life, much to the distress of household members and soft furnishings. She now volunteers regularly at Los Angeles Oiled Bird Care Centre.
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Granny Franny and her big red bus are off on another adventure!
In Granny Franny’s Big Zoo Rescue, we meet up again with Granny Franny and her grandchildren Jax and Ronni. The talking bus bell Thinkerbell also returns with her rhyming speech.
The premise of this book is a trip to the zoo but things quickly go wrong when the children climb on board the bus and spot escaped animals on their journey. Can Granny Franny and the children use the bus to round up the animals and get them safely back to the zoo…?
As you can see from the photos above, the illustrations are fun and bright. Thinkerbell has the word ‘push’ on her nose so Zach obliged each time! This is a lovely book to share with younger children and is a fun way for older siblings to enjoy time with little ones whilst practising their expression and fluency of reading.
In these tricky lockdown times, some escapism and adventure is very much appreciated! Happy memories of bus trips and visits to the zoo as well as time with grandparents are all evoked with this sweet children’s book.
Whilst writing this book, author and illustrator Sonia Beldom was visited by a little robin so has decided to make a donation to the RSPB for every book sold. She has also hidden a little robin on each page adding an extra fun thing to spot.
My favourite part of the book was the lion’s rescue while Zach enjoyed hunting for the robin among the other animals. Matthew enjoyed an incident with elephant poo!
About Granny Franny’s Big Zoo Rescue and its author:
Granny Franny’s second adventure on her big red bus starts when her special Zoosday Tuesday appears to be over before it has begun. With the help of her resourceful grand children, Jax & Ronni, Thinkerbell the talking bus bell and a host of funny new characters, Granny Franny comes to the rescue of a zoo whose animals have escaped overnight. Will she be able to pick up the penguins, marshall the monkeys and lure the lion back?
This funny story is about the unbreakable bonds between grand parents and their grand children, the spirit of adventure, generosity, conquering fears, kindness and helping each other.
While Sonia was writing Granny Franny’s Big Zoo Rescue, a tame robin came to visit her every day; sometimes sitting on her laptop screen, often eating out of her hand and exploring the house. Sonia was heartbroken when a sparrow hawk swooped down to take her robin away, so in the little robin’s honour Sonia has planted a picture of him on every page and a percentage of sales is going to the RSPB.