The Taste of Appleseeds by Katharina Hagena

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Originally entitled “Der Gerschmack von Apfelkernen”, this novel has been translated into English from German, and has already been a literary success in Europe, translated into numerous languages and made into a German film (which I’m dying to get my hands on).

The story revolves around Iris, a woman who inherits her grandmother’s home upon her death and is forced to face some of the secrets of her family and her past. Her grandparents both had deep, dark secrets hidden in the walls that don’t tell tales. Tragedy struck more than once in the little home, more than one daughter was lost. Iris decides to speak with the man who has been tending the home, and with the lawyer representing the property (who is conveniently handsome) and see if she can put together the pieces left behind for her.

The Taste of Appleseeds, by Katharina Hagena, is a must-read for readers who love Kate Morton (The Forgotten Garden, The Distant Hours, The Secret Keeper, the House at Riverton) , Katherine Webb (The Unseen, The Half-Forgotten Song) , or Kimberley Freeman  (Wildflower Hill, Lighthouse Bay, Ember Island). What makes the novel original is that it has a touch of magical realism, faint but there nonetheless, which gives the story something special that you magical realism readers will love too.

Anyone who knows me well enough to judge can tell you that these types of novels are my very favorite. Long, delving back through generations, deep and dark family secrets, beautiful description and an almost magical feel, and a heroine who is determined to get to the bottom of the mystery at any cost…LOVE them. They aren’t for readers who want instant gratification or a short weekend read, but for patient readers who like to take a more languid path once in a while. If this sounds like you, then don’t hesitate to read The Taste of Appleseeds…And if any of you can figure out how to get any version of the movie available here in the states be sure to let me know!

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson

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William E. Dodd became America’s Ambassador to Hitler’s Germany in 1933, bringing his family to Berlin with him. Based on correspondences between a number of very colorful individuals, including his flamboyant daughter, Martha, various public officials from Germany and the U.S., and much more, the story of an American family experiencing the horrors and confusion of a very painful dark mark in world history comes through, piece by piece, leaving the reader to decide for himself how such unspeakable events could possibly have been allowed to happen.

This is a non-fiction work based on letters and personal accounts of a number of different individuals, telling the painful tale of the persecution of the Jews, of Jew sympathizers, of the various other victims of the Nazi oppression, the birth of concentration camps (to keep jews safe, of course), and the corruption of a government that set branches against one another in bloody attacks leading to imprisonment and deaths.

If you enjoy reading about history and sociology of the past, and you like non-fiction that draws on your heart strings with brutal strength, leaving you in horror of the crimes that humans commit against one another, In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin, by Erik Larson, is for you.  is for you. The Zookeeper’s Wife, by Diane Ackerman, is another suggested read in this genre, should you decide to delve in deeper.