Book Review: The Tattooist of Auschwitz

During a terrifying time in modern history, The Tattooist of Auschwitz gives us the opportunity to witness the triumph of humanity.

A story within ‘history’ is what attracted me to The Tattooist.  I am generally drawn to non-fiction, and  so The Tattooist of Auschwitz was right up my alley. From the moment I opened its pages, it captured every bit of my attention.

What is  The Tattooist of Auschwitz About

The Tattooist is the story about Lyle Sokolov who was sent to Auschwitz in 1942 (he was 25 years old at the time). Early in his stay of three years, Lyle finds himself being allocated the job of Tattooist. It is his job to tattoo the serial numbers on the Auschwitz inhabitants’ arms. The serial numbers were tattooed on prisoners who were deemed healthy and fit enough to work in the camp.

RELATED: Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 1: Book Review
Falling in love

During his tenure, he falls in love with 18 year old Gita while tattooing her arm. Even though her head was shaven and she was wearing tattered clothes, he fell in love with her (get out the tissues now!).

[bctt tweet=”The book is an account of how Lyle and Gita’s relationship evolved amidst inhumane circumstances.” username=”cherralle_”]

Auschwitz

Is it a Cheesy Romance Novel?

Let me set the record straight. I do not like ‘romance’ novels. I find them cheesy and unrealistic, and I just cannot read them.

There are times when the author does go off the rails a bit. For example when she talks about ‘Lale’s longing for Gita during the hot summer days…etc.’ She does bring it back.

Also, when it gets too ‘Mills and Boonsy’ it felt a bit too much considering what is transpiring at Auschwitz at that moment.

The book’s focus is the connection between Gita and Lyle

There are many parts of the book, where I was genuinely moved. Although this book’s focus is not the Holocaust (it is about the love story), the author could not avoid sharing the horrific details (more tissues!).

Important Messages

It shows us that although Lyle was enduring one of the lowest moments in modern history, he found hope (and so did Gita).

It also reminds us to maintain and embrace the humanity within ourselves.

Always lead with kindness. Be human first. We are human before we are any other part of our identity.

I recommend the Tattooist of Auschwitz if you are looking for a read that is embedded in history but laced with a true love story.  The story is heartfelt, and will have you reaching for the tissues!

You will be googling the hell out of Gita and Lyle because you will want to know more about them!

The tattooist is for sale at Take A Lot  and all reputable bookstores.

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 1: Book Review

A balanced review of Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls  by Elena Favilli and Francesca  Cavallo

We attended Disney on Ice last week, and it was hard to ignore how the stories are built around ‘girls being saved by knights and princes.’ I don’t have an issue with princess stories. In fact, princesses have high standing in our home!

However, I have a problem if that is ALL that my children are being exposed to.

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Yes, girls and boys are different in many ways.

However, not everything need to be attributed to gender.

I want my girls to know for certain that there are girls out there who are aviators, mathematicians and Olympic gold medal winners. You know…if you can see it, you can dream it.

That is where  Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls comes in.

If you are looking for inspiring stories to read to your sons and daughters, then Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls will make an excellent addition to your bookshelf.

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 1: Book Review

good night stories for rebel girls review sa book

What is Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls about?

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls is a children’s book packed with 100 bedtime stories about the life of 100 extraordinary women from the past and the present.

It ranges from Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama, Miriam Makeba (my favourite), Simone Biles and Amelia Earhart. The book covers a wide variety of fields, including science, medicine, literature, the arts, sports, politics, fashion, politics, the military, and more from across countries.

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls aims to show our daughters not to let anyone tell them that we cannot do something because they are girls. If you have the ability and mindset you can do anything!

What to expect from Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls

The  illustrations throughout the book are stunning an dramatic. Each women’s portrait is unique and impactful, just like the women themselves. The beautiful blue cover will make an excellent addition to any little girl’s book collection.

 

good night stories for rebel girls review page sa

How long is this book and will you be up all night reading this thick book to your child?

No. Although Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls is thick; however, the stories are all one-pagers. Therefore, the book is very easy to read to your children.

How can you use the book to encourage conversation with your children?

Discuss the unique stories and why the women you read about are so special. The book aims to shatter preconceived ideas about what girls and boys are ‘supposed’ to be.

My four-year-old was amazed that a girl (Amna Al Haddad) could be a weightlifter. I also could not believe it, and we googled Amna together to read up about her further.

Constructive criticism: What could be better?

1. Caution: the writing is simple, remember it is a book for children. Please don’t expect an in-depth overview.

2. Stories are short and may only ‘brush’ over achievements. Can we really cover Michelle O’Bama in a one-pager? No, so be prepared to add in any additional information in need. If your child is like mine, who asks WHY WHY repeatedly you are going to need extra information (in this case Google is your friend)

3. Some stories might make you uncomfortable. As an example, in the story of Malala, she gets shot. I am not going to read that to my four-year-old. So I would adapt the words to say ‘they hurt her.’ Use your discretion.

In Conclusion 

I would definitely recommend adding Rebel Girls to your collection if you want your daughter to be exposed to a variety of role models. The beauty of this book is that these  stories are based on real people.

As with all things parenting, use your judgment and do what makes sense.

One of my daughter’s show and tell days had an ‘air transport’ theme. We drew a picture of Amelia Earhart together. And that was her show and tell – the first woman to fly across the ocean.

 

Rebel Girls is for sale at TakeAlot from R 319 and at all leading book retailers.

Shonda Rhimes Year Of Yes: 5 Key Lessons (and why you need this book in your life)

Shonda Rhimes is a power house. Creator of Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy and How To Get Away With Murder.

In  Year of Yes, Shonda Rhimes gives an intimate account of how she said yes to things that scared her for one year. The book is a full account of her one year journey and is now one of my favourite books for women.

It was hard to get stuck into the book at first. I found the book a bit too ‘informal,’ ‘chatty’ and the pace felt slow. However I soldiered on, and I am so glad I did.

By the second to third chapter, I realised two things:

1) She is speaking to me (the reader) as if we are girlfriends and just chatting. In the book she wants to connect on a personal level
2) The writing style in her book is reflective of how she writes her scripts. Fast paced monologues anyone?

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I was getting very excited. I could  see where her main TV characters came from: Olivia Pope, Meredith Grey, Christina Yang, etc.

It was as if Olivia Pope was there, permeating through the pages. It was truly magnificent to discover the inside workings of this woman’s mind.

Shonda Rhimes Year of Yes: Here are 5 Key Lessons

shonda rhimes year of yes

Say yes to your voice, you  may just inspire

The first yes that Shonda describes was saying yes to a Graduation Speech at Dartmouth, the university which she attended. Although scared out of her mind, she ends up delivering an epic speech! By the way, one of the things she  told the students is that they need to get rid of the dream and start doing.

 “I think a lot of people dream. And while they are busy dreaming, the really happy people, the really successful people, the really interesting, engaged, powerful people, are busy doing,” she said.

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Working motherhood – we don’t need to pretend we got it all together

Shonda discovered that often people are not open about the level of support they have to make this working parent thing work. She states that she has a nanny, who looks after her kids, and would not be able to what she does without her nanny.

The lesson here is that it is important for people to share their stories. Particularly, those who are ‘role models’ so that they do not create unrealistic expectations (albeit unintentionally).

Shonda takes pride in being a working mom and loves the fact that her daughters are proud of her.

I want my daughters to see me and know me as a woman who works. I want that example set for them. I like how proud they are when they come to my offices and know that they come to Shondaland”, she said.

Related Post: Moms, Step Up and Play With your Kids: Why Play is Important

Say Yes To Play Time

Shonda committed to saying yes when her kids asked her to play. In one example, she was on her way out to a dinner function one evening. However, her children asked her to play just as she was heading for the door. She said yes anyway, knowing she would be late for the function.

What difference does it make being 15 minutes to a function, when that 15 minutes will mean the world to her kids? She also realised that when she sits down and plays with her children, they can only  play together for about 15 minutes before they want to move on,  and that is cool.

We can all manage the 15 minutes, can’t we? Shonda encourages 15 minutes of play time a day. Play time could be with your kids, or  could be 15 minutes dedicated to doing something that relaxes you.

[bctt tweet=”Play time could be with your kids, or  could be 15 minutes doing something that relaxes you” username=”cherralle_”]

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Say Yes to looking after yourself

Shonda advocates saying ‘yes to replenishing your well’.  For one thing, she recommends disconnecting from work, especially on weekends to explore other sides to ourselves. As a rule, she started focusing on being home for dinner, disconnecting by 19h00 in the evening. Actually the world will not end if she does not take those calls. There will be emergencies, but these are few and far between.

She also admits to getting it wrong as often as she gets it right, don’t we all?

Be the badass that you are and own it

Shonda created a word. Yes, she did, she is completely within her rights to create a word. Badassery. Defined in her book as follows: 1) “the practice of knowing one’s own accomplishments and gifts, accepting one’s own accomplishments and gifts, and celebrating one’s own accomplishments and gifts; (2) the practice of living life with swagger.” 

Accept compliments, say thank you and move on.

[bctt tweet=”Shonda created a word. Yes, she did, she is completely within her rights to create a word. ‘Badassery’.” username=”cherralle_”]

Year of Yes is not about agreeing to everything, its about pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone. Do something different you may just surprise yourself.

Be a good friend and share this post with a friend who might love this book!!

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Bye Bye Mom Guilt – Why You Should Feel Proud Of Being a Working Mom

 

 

 

Do I still need to ‘lean in’ when I am just so tired?

I came across Sheryl Sandberg and Lean In when I was on maternity leave with my first (December 2013). I was planning my move back to work and I was struggling coming to terms with being a mom and how that fitted in with wanting a career as well.

Then…I caught an interview with Oprah and Sheryl Sandberg, and I was blown away.

Here was a woman, a mother, super successful, COO of Facebook (right!) and she was setting the path. I immediately bought the book on my kindle – there was no time to get to Exclusive Books. I had to have it right then and there.

Related PostPart 1: Our Journey Of Equally Shared Parenting

Sheryl was telling me that I have choices.  ‘Hey even if you have a kid, lean in, go for it, allow/ encourage your husband lean in at home,  etc.’

I totally lapped it up and yes it was challenging but that became my motto. Lean in! The world was my oyster. I even had a lean in circle and quoted her in conversations. I loved this woman (and I still do).

 

Now here we are 3 years later, am I still leaning in?

lean in when tired

I now have two kids, we are a  mostly functional 🙂 and happy family. Sheryl was right by the way, ‘leaning in’ has been good for me, it came with stretch assignments, rewards and  sponsors. All good. As I said, I love this woman.

So everything is okay…. but I am so darn tired. So tired. I have two kids now, and I am over thirty, if I have not made it clear already having two kids is really busy and exhausting (yeah yeah I love them and all that).

[bctt tweet=”Lean In to the things that make you happy” username=”cherralle_”]

What I actually am saying is that I will lean in but will lean in to things that make me happy and fulfilled. This is something I started thinking about when I returned to work in February from my second (and final) maternity leave.

Related Post:  7 Things a Working Mother Wants To Tell her Boss

Leaning In: Where to from here?

Leaning in at work too much  takes time, head space and emotional energy. It could leave me with nothing left to give. Time is less of an issue, I mean actual emotional energy and head space. And I need that emotional energy and head space to live my life.

I want my girls and my husband to have me as part of their lives.

This book remains one of THEE books for me and I still find so much value in these ideas and that can be a whole post on its own.

My life has evolved and what I take from Lean In has evolved too. I needed it at a stage of my life, where I needed to understand how to work through being a mom who also WANTS to work.

And it served it’s purpose beautifully as I took exactly what I needed from it. It still remains a truly inspirational book to me.

I still need the concept of leaning in, but in a different way

I still believe there is value in the ideas from Lean In  for me personally as I do still want to work and make an impact through my work.

I like to think of leaning in, as having choices and as leaning in to what makes me fulfilled. It is not about leaning in to climb the ‘corporate ladder’, but it’s about ‘doing me’.

That is why it is important for me that the work I do excites, energizes and interests me.

I like how Cathy Caprino puts it “Let’s just choose what we want, and live that.” Lean in to life, work, family, kids,  whatever makes you feel fulfilled and happy. As life evolves, we evolve and change and that is okay.

Do you have any mottos, quotes, books that you find inspirational?