What I'm Reading: The Ghost Keeper

From the book jacket:

In the years between the two world wars, Josef Tobak builds a quiet life around his friendships, his beloved wife, Anna, and his devotion to the old Jewish cemeteries of Vienna. Then comes the Anschluss in 1938, and Josef’s world is uprooted. His health disintegrates. His wife and child are forced to flee to China. His closest gentile friend joins the Nazi Party—and yet helps Josef escape to America.

When the war ends, Josef returns to Vienna with his family and tries to make sense of what remains, including his former Nazi friend who, he discovers, protected Josef’s young female cousin throughout the war. 

Back among his cemeteries in Austria’s war-shattered capital, Josef finds himself beset by secrets, darkness and outward righteousness marred by private cruelty. As the truth is unearthed, Josef’s care for the dead takes on new meaning while he confronts his own role in healing both his devastated community and his deepest wounds.

The Ghost Keeper is a story about the terrible choices we make to survive and the powerful connections to communities and friends that define us. Here is a finely accomplished novel that introduces an exciting new voice to our literary landscape.

My review:

I picked up The Ghost Keeper on a bit of a whim. I had a bit of a hard time following the narration at first but once the story really kicked off and I got used to the weaving in and out of the timeline, it was a fairly captivating read.

The Ghost Keeper demonstrates how relationships can outlast a war but at the same time, change so greatly. As we read about Josef and his friend Friedrich we are shown how sometimes our deepest, darkest secrets can eat away at us no matter what we do to try and make up for them.

Morrill uses some beautiful poetry throughout this work, but I wish there was a little bit more to it aside from the various letter back and forth between the characters. If Friedrich’s character was a bit more developed, even, I would’ve been satisfied. Why join the Nazi party but yet, keep his friends safe? What was his reasoning?

After being left with a feeling of underdevelopment, I thought The Ghost Keeper was good, but not quite good enough.

My rating: ★★★½/5 stars

2019: A Photo Recap

It’s been a hot minute since I’ve popped on here to say hello, so what better time to do so than to recap the past 365 days? This year I thought I’d share a photo from my favourite moment for each month. It wasn’t an easy task, choosing which photo to feature, but I think each one captures a pretty great moment in Evans history!

January

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Norah takes on swimming lessons

February

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The day we met our Sam. I miss him so much!

March

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Conquering my first trail race of the season!

April

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The girls both completed the Mini Boogie and LOVED it!

May

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More race moments! Without this guy’s encouragement I couldn’t have finished the Blackwell Dairy 15K Race!

June

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These two girls celebrated their birthdays!

July

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Our family vacation to the lake was top notch.

August

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Not a day goes by where I don’t appreciate everything this guy does so we can enjoy lake days like this!

September

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We sadly had to say goodbye to Sam but were able to say “Welcome!” to Lars!

October

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Halloween was a great success!

November

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Isla got to perform with the Moscow Ballet in the Great Russian Nutcracker and it was so amazing!

December

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While busy as ever, Christmas was amazing and these two had the most wonderful time.

There are so many other moments worth mentioning, both good and not so good, but overall 2019 was an incredible year. I can already tell that the next 366 days are going to be ones for the books, so here’s to hoping it throws as few curveballs our way as possible!

Wishing each and every one of my readers a wonderful (and safe) New Year! Thank you for everything!

What I'm Reading: Clay Tongue: A Novelette

From the book jacket:

From the author of the award-winning Pale Highway and the radio play Something in the Nothing comes a short fantasy of love, shyness, and the secrets of human communication.

Katie Mirowitz is a small little girl with an even smaller little voice. She possesses a deep love for her grandfather, who suffers from aphasia after a bad stroke cuts loose the part of his brain that processes verbal language. When Katie uncovers a miraculous secret inside the pages of her grandfather’s old journal, as well as an ancient key, she goes out into the woods in search of answers — hoping to uncover a mythical being that, if it exists, may just have the ability to grant wishes.

My review:

(Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this novelette from the author in exchange for an honest review.)

Clay Tongue shows a beautiful bond between Katie and her grandfather, even though they both struggle with verbalizing their feelings. Their similarities create literal unspoken secrets and I could feel their connection.

Having a family member who had similar side-effects from a stroke, I could sympathize with Katie’s mom. It is heartbreaking to see how much one event can change a person so greatly, but as family we stick by them no matter how hard things become.

While Clay Tongue was a bit predictable, I feel that if it was a full length novel this wouldn’t be the case. I would love to read a fuller, more developed storyline, but for this novelette everything was thoughtfully written and wonderfully descriptive.

I felt maybe as though Katie’s thoughts might have been too descriptive for her age, but then again, when you struggle verbalizing what are you left with but what you picture in your mind?

I generally don’t gravitate towards Fantasy-esque reads, so I’d like to thank the author, Nicholas Conley for reaching out and allowing me to read his work. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this novelette.

My rating: ★★★★/5 Stars