A fast-paced, compelling story with a lot of heart.

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RIVER OF GRACE

A Christian thriller with a dash of romance.

Snyder (Journey to Amanah, 1991) takes readers to Camp Grace nestled in the mountains of West Virginia. For the group of young campers that arrive from Ohio, the camp is meant to be a respite from the threatening inner-city streets, but unbeknownst to them, real danger lurks right in front of them. Collin, a social worker, is tough and stubborn, which serves her well at her job; sometimes, however, she takes things too far, as when she slices her own hand with a contraband pocketknife (then refuses medical care) to prove a point to the kids at the camp. She’s here with her client Robbie, hoping that the week at Camp Grace will give him the direction he needs. Though Collin’s Christian faith is strong, she’s also battling personal demons and traumatic memories, one of which has left her with a deathly fear of rivers—a problem, because Robbie and she are signed up for the whitewater rafting course. She quickly strikes up a friendship with Jeff, the friendly maintenance man at the camp who shares her strong religious faith, yet she does her best to keep herself closed off from him. When Collin comes face-to-face with a violent criminal, she’ll need to rely on her faith and the help of those who love and care for her to see her through. Her story is deftly told, with perfect pacing and a lifelike cast of supporting characters. Sometimes, however, the speech patterns of the characters come across as a bit too similar; for instance, more than one character is in the habit of addressing her as “lady.” But the twin storylines of the dangerous killer and the budding romance between Collin and Jeff are aided by playful narrative touches: “I like a man with an expanded vocabulary,” Collin says. “It’s a refreshing change from those whose entire linguistic repertoire is ‘yo.’ ”

A fast-paced, compelling story with a lot of heart.

Pub Date: May 13, 2013

ISBN: 978-1462726417

Page Count: 272

Publisher: CrossBooks

Review Posted Online: Feb. 28, 2014

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The writing is merely serviceable, and one can’t help but wish the author had found a way to present her material as...

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THE TATTOOIST OF AUSCHWITZ

An unlikely love story set amid the horrors of a Nazi death camp.

Based on real people and events, this debut novel follows Lale Sokolov, a young Slovakian Jew sent to Auschwitz in 1942. There, he assumes the heinous task of tattooing incoming Jewish prisoners with the dehumanizing numbers their SS captors use to identify them. When the Tätowierer, as he is called, meets fellow prisoner Gita Furman, 17, he is immediately smitten. Eventually, the attraction becomes mutual. Lale proves himself an operator, at once cagey and courageous: As the Tätowierer, he is granted special privileges and manages to smuggle food to starving prisoners. Through female prisoners who catalog the belongings confiscated from fellow inmates, Lale gains access to jewels, which he trades to a pair of local villagers for chocolate, medicine, and other items. Meanwhile, despite overwhelming odds, Lale and Gita are able to meet privately from time to time and become lovers. In 1944, just ahead of the arrival of Russian troops, Lale and Gita separately leave the concentration camp and experience harrowingly close calls. Suffice it to say they both survive. To her credit, the author doesn’t flinch from describing the depravity of the SS in Auschwitz and the unimaginable suffering of their victims—no gauzy evasions here, as in Boy in the Striped Pajamas. She also manages to raise, if not really explore, some trickier issues—the guilt of those Jews, like the tattooist, who survived by doing the Nazis’ bidding, in a sense betraying their fellow Jews; and the complicity of those non-Jews, like the Slovaks in Lale’s hometown, who failed to come to the aid of their beleaguered countrymen.

The writing is merely serviceable, and one can’t help but wish the author had found a way to present her material as nonfiction. Still, this is a powerful, gut-wrenching tale that is hard to shake off.

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-279715-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS

These letters from some important executive Down Below, to one of the junior devils here on earth, whose job is to corrupt mortals, are witty and written in a breezy style seldom found in religious literature. The author quotes Luther, who said: "The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn." This the author does most successfully, for by presenting some of our modern and not-so-modern beliefs as emanating from the devil's headquarters, he succeeds in making his reader feel like an ass for ever having believed in such ideas. This kind of presentation gives the author a tremendous advantage over the reader, however, for the more timid reader may feel a sense of guilt after putting down this book. It is a clever book, and for the clever reader, rather than the too-earnest soul.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1942

ISBN: 0060652934

Page Count: 53

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1943

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