A dramatically and philosophically enthralling tale.

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I WAS HITLER'S BAKER

In Peterson’s (The Girl From Copenhagen, 2018) historical novel, a childhood acquaintance of Adolf Hitler later becomes a baker with a lucrative but ultimately dangerous business strategy. 

When Josef Putkamer first meets Hitler as a child in 1900, they’re classmates in Leonding, Austria, and the latter already bears the marks of a future tyrant. He intimidates Putkamer into parting with his lunch money daily, and, eventually, Putkamer placates him with pastries purloined from his baker father’s shop. Hitler is “incredibly selfish” and “generally fearless,” Putkamer notes in the first-person narration, as well as a cruel prankster who’s incapable of empathy. He’s also a staunch admirer of former German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck and already believes that he has a great destiny. The two boys eventually part ways, and Putkamer, years later, takes over his father’s bakery and opens another in Munich. There, he’s reunited with Hitler, who’s become an angry political agitator, trying to make a name for himself. Putkamer, at the request of his new pastry chef and wife, Freya Krause, caters to the growing Nazi market as a business strategy—the customers “were suckers for anything with a swastika on it,” he notes. By 1935, his business is so successful that he opens a third store in Berlin, becoming the distinguished owner of multiple “Nazi-themed bakeries.” Peterson imaginatively conjures the evolution of Hitler’s maniacal psyche, showing the lust for power that’s evident from his earliest years. But the protagonist, Putkamer, is the book’s most intriguing aspect—a man who proclaims himself apolitical yet pins his business’s hopes on the ascendancy of a murderous political party. The character also marries an unrepentant admirer of all things Nazi; after one lovemaking session, she’s thrilled that they “made love on the same bed upon which Ernst Röhm and his young men pleasured themselves.” The narrator’s indifference to the tumultuous politics of the times—artfully depicted by Peterson— rises to the level of dark absurdity. The author successfully explores what German American philosopher Hannah Arendt famously called the “banality of evil”—effectively showing how bureaucrats and businessmen can contribute, without ideological fervor, to political oppression. 

A dramatically and philosophically enthralling tale.

Pub Date: June 20, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-949735-97-0

Page Count: 242

Publisher: Ideopage Press Solutions

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

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A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

GHOSTED

In Walsh’s American debut, a woman desperately tries to find out why the man she spent a whirlwind week with never called.

Sarah has just separated from her American husband and is visiting her hometown in England when she meets Eddie. He’s kind and charming, and although they only spend one week together, she falls in love. When he has to leave for a trip, she knows they’ll keep in touch—they’re already making plans for the rest of their lives. But then Eddie never calls, and Sarah’s increasingly frantic efforts to contact him are fruitless. Is he hurt? Is he dead? As her friends tell her, there’s a far greater likelihood that he’s just blowing her off—she’s been ghosted. After trying to track Eddie down at a football game, Sarah starts to become ashamed of herself—after all, she’s almost 40 years old and she’s essentially stalking a man who never called her. But as Sarah slowly learns, she and Eddie didn’t actually meet randomly—they both have a connection to an accident that happened years ago, and it may have something to do with why he disappeared. The tension quickly amps up as the secrets of Eddie’s and Sarah’s pasts are revealed, and the truth behind their connection is genuinely surprising and heartbreaking. The barriers between Sarah and Eddie seem insurmountable at times, and although their issues are resolved in a tidy manner, the emotions behind their actions are always believable. Walsh has created a deeply moving romance with an intriguing mystery and a touching portrait of grief at its heart.

A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

Pub Date: July 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-52277-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

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THE STARLESS SEA

A withdrawn graduate student embarks on an epic quest to restore balance to the world in this long-anticipated follow-up to The Night Circus (2011).

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a typical millennial introvert; he likes video games, escapist reading, and drinking sidecars. But when he recognizes himself in the pages of a mysterious book from the university library, he's unnerved—and determined to uncover the truth. What begins as a journey for answers turns into something much bigger, and Zachary must decide whether to trust the handsome stranger he meets at a highflying literary fundraiser in New York or to retreat back to his thesis and forget the whole affair. In a high-wire feat of metatextual derring-do, Morgenstern weaves Zachary's adventure into a stunning array of linked fables, myths, and origin stories. There are pirates and weary travelers, painters who can see the future, lovers torn asunder, a menacing Owl King, and safe harbors for all the stories of the world, far below the Earth on the golden shores of a Starless Sea. Clocking in at more than 500 pages, the novel requires patience as Morgenstern puts all the pieces in place, but it is exquisitely pleasurable to watch the gears of this epic fantasy turn once they're set in motion. As in The Night Circus, Morgenstern is at her best when she imagines worlds and rooms and parties in vivid detail, right down to the ballroom stairs "festooned with lanterns and garlands of paper dipped in gold" or a cloak carved from ice with "ships and sailors and sea monsters...lost in the drifting snow." This novel is a love letter to readers as much as an invitation: Come and see how much magic is left in the world. Fans of Neil Gaiman and V.E. Schwab, Kelly Link and Susanna Clarke will want to heed the call.

An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-385-54121-3

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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