Blogging, Book Reviews

Book Review: Mischling

Mischling Book Cover

Warning: Some General Spoilers Ahead
For backstory, I saught out Mischling at the suggestion of an agent as a possible comparative title for a WWII/Holocaust historical romance novel I’ve been querying with agents. Prior to researching and writing my novel, I did not know about the term “Mischling”, and if you’re like me, it’s actually really surprising to learn the history of its influence in Nazi Germany. So, let me enlighten those who were like me. “Mischling” was the label placed on mix-blooded citizens in Germany due to the Nuremberg Laws of 1935, with two forms: Mischling ersten Grades (meaning 1/2 Jewish) and Mischling zweiten Grades (meaning 1/4 Jewish). Those with this label retained partial citizenship, and while still ostracized and viewed as inferior to German-blooded citizens, they were typically not the immediate targets sent to concentration camps.

Okay, history lesson over, back to Mischling by Affinity Konar.

The premise is a sad but interesting one, identical twins, Pearl and Stasha are selected by Auschwitz’s mad doctor, the “Angel of Death”, Josef Mengele for his infamous “Zoo” of unique genetic subjects. This man was known for doing vile experiments on twins/multiples, albinos, people with dwarfism, people with heterochromatic eyes (two different colored eyes) and more. Often with identical twins, he’d use one as control subject and experimented on the other to see the resistance and differences before killing both off.

Pearl and Stasha start their journey in the middle of this with different methods of keeping each other alive and hopeful. Pearl is put in charge of recalling “the sad, the good, the past” memories, while Stasha is in charge of “the funny, the future, the bad”. They also play games with categorizing animals and guess which animal the other is charading as. As for where the title’s meaning comes into place, it starts with a reference to their lighter hair color (a so-called Mischling trait, though their mother explains to Mengele that they aren’t half-blooded, just had a fair father), but it also plays a metaphorical meaning later as Stasha begins to feel less connected to her twin as if she is half-blooded as a Mischling.

So, what’s my opinion on this book? It is a beautifully written book in that we see the contrasting perspectives and personalities of both girls through their point of view changes in chapters. Stasha is very creative-minded and imaginative, while Pearl is much more straightforward and even-toned. Stasha’s parts are written like poetry across the board, while Pearl’s is much more like a standard retelling. In some ways, this is very creative, but in other ways, it was jarring for me because Stasha makes up most of the perspective in this book. Also, keep in mind that the twins are supposed to be 12 years old.

Now, I know WWII children were probably versed differently than teens today, and Stasha could very well be a bit prodigious (she gets close to Mengele, known to her as “Uncle” by claiming she wants to learn medicine and be a doctor someday), but at the same time, it made it harder to relate to her. I’m not against poetic, imaginative characters, mind you. Anne of Green Gables is one of my favorite books, and she is similarly poetic and imaginative. However, it makes it hard to tell what is factual in the accounts versus highly-creative examples of a daydreaming girl in a horrific set of circumstances. I almost wish there had been more balance between Stasha’s POV chapters and Pearl’s because sometimes it made the book feel confusing and longer than intended. Also, this book is split into two parts, which was a bit jarring for me when I reached that point a good 150-200 pages into it.

Furthermore, because of how she describes everything, I hate to say it but it made it very hard for me to connect with the emotional parts of the book. Don’t get me wrong. I love creatively crafted scenes, but I personally favor dialogue over description so this was a harder book for me to latch onto. It’s hard to cry over a scene when absentmindedly you are wondering if it actually happened or it’s Stasha’s imagination. Then, there are the side characters in the story. Only one of them I really wanted to know more about, and the sad truth is that it isn’t due to how the character is presented in this since she gets so little focus. I won’t spoil her impact too much, but she is an assistant of Mengele who is based on a real person during this timeframe who made very, very tough decisions in order to keep women (especially ones in the brothel at Auschwitz) alive. We see her guilt in this story, but again, it’s so limited that you don’t really have enough time to connect with her emotionally. So, that leaves us to the main characters, Stasha, Pearl, and Felick. I wanted so badly to feel for them empathically like I have with other Holocaust accounts (non-fiction and fiction), but of them all, I connect the most with Pearl since I can see things more easily through her eyes.

Overall: I give Mischling by Affinity Konar the book a 3.5/5. The premise is interesting, and if you like a very imaginative, Anne of Green Gables sort of heroine as a sense of hope in such a dark circumstances as the Holocaust, then this will probably be a good book for learning about Mengele’s Zoo without the transparent depravity of all that he did being shoved down your throat. It is well-written and tackles a lot of interesting aspects of its historical counterpart. However, it felt lengthy at times for me, left me confused on some details, and just didn’t connect to me emotionally for such an emotional concept. It’s in no way a bad book, it just wasn’t quite what I was expecting.
Where to Buy It: Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Where to See Affinity Konar and her Story: Website

Blogging, novels

The First I Do Book Trailer

In honor of the upcoming release of my 7th novel, here is a book trailer to give you a peek of what to expect in The First I Do.​​

Hope you enjoy and here’s where to find it if you want to read it for yourself.
Other Works by Sarah N. Ham

Blogging, Book Reviews, Short Stories, Written Essays

Book Review: Jenny of Lebanon

Warning: Some Spoilers ahead

Jenny of Lebanon is an easy, single day read. I got the book in the mail today and then, proceeded to read the book in less than an hour. It’s roughly 50 pages in length, to put it in perspective (that’s not counting any acknowledgement pages or about author page). However, aside from the book being short in length, it just grabs you rather quickly and holds onto you, where you can’t help but finish it in one sitting. At first, the descriptive introduction of the characters made me worry that it was going to be too descriptive (the first chapter is complete setup), but even that was too lively to bore me. I’m a sucker for cats, so an opening with a cat trying to catch a robin is a great way to keep my attention, be it a tad biased (love you, Marvin, you adorably bratty cat). Still, the minute we see Jenny and Billy interact, it’s fast-paced throughout the rest of the story.

So…the story.

What can be said about Jenny of Lebanon other than the fact that it is painfully relatable even if you aren’t dealing specifically with the same themes and problems as Billy and Jenny. As a person who fell in love and married my high school sweetheart, I’m a sucker for first love romance, but this book doesn’t sugarcoat the other side of that dynamic. First love is full of first mistakes, first fights, and first shortfalls, and while we don’t get to see that firsthand in this story, we see the aftermath of it for Jenny and Billy. They’ve dealt with the realities of life, and author, Gabrielle Olexa, is smart in giving just enough subtle, implicit glimpses at that to make you not only want to know more but also, grasp some of the lives these two has faced.

I don’t per se relate to either of them specifically in their choices to play this cat-and-mouse game of kiss-and-fake-the-make-up, but I’ve also never encountered the painful pasts that are peppered throughout their dialogue and carefully described settings/memorabilia. So, I feel an empathetic heart for them as they both struggle to decide if they should actually remain together or finally end it, and the book leaves that open to the reader to decide as it ends with her leaving, but Billy clearly leaving his door open for her return.

There are a few themes that are personally hard for me, as a Christian: some vulgar language, an implied sex scene that luckily peeks away into the next chapter for the aftermath, discussion of one completed abortion, and the implication of a second one likely to follow, but in the context of the story, they all makes sense. This story isn’t some fluff piece with cutesy childhood friends who married and lived happily ever after. It’s painfully real story of heartbreak, attempts to mend a broken marriage, and a past littered with regret and consequences, and in that, it is beautifully written.

As the book blurb puts it, “Jenny… hits a lot harder than a Honda”, and I think that’s a fair representation of Jenny of Lebanon.

5/5 Stars

Where to Buy it: Amazon

Where to See Gabrielle Olexa and her story: Twitter

Her Website


Special Sale on The College Girl’s Coiffetta (Book 1 of Len Champagne series)

In celebration of the upcoming release of the second book in the Len Champagne series, Papillon Noir (hitting Amazon store shelves August 20th, 2019), I am holding a sale on the Kindle edition of The College Girl’s Coiffetta (Book 1 of the Len Champagne series)

 It will be available for the special price of $0.99 an eBook until the 16th! Get it at this special discounted price while the sale lasts!
Amazon eBook Sale

Also, if you’re curious about Papillon Noir Pre-Order Information, here’s the information.

 Synopsis: Papillon Noir (Book 2 of Len Champagne Series) tells the story of Mahieu Len, the grandfather of Korbel. When Gatsby is struggling to find the reason for Korbel’s secretive behavior, he confides in Mahieu for advice and support. Along the way, he can’t help but ask the story of how Mahieu met his late wife, Seraphina. The answer will shock him.

Travel back in time to 1944 in France, when a young Mahieu Len fights at D-Day in order to liberate France and gain back the Len Estates in Champagne. Along the way, he finds himself tangled in the complicated life of a young prostitute from the Papillon Noir maison close in Cherbourg, France.

Available for Pre-Order Here: (Release Date: August 20th, 2019) Amazon Papillon Noir Pre-Order

Thank you everyone for your support, and if you do decide to pick up the book, please consider reviewing either on Amazon or on my Goodread page. God bless!


Trying to Self-Publish

So, I’ve been trying to get my manuscripts of the last 20 novels I’ve written (more specifically at the moment the first series of books I ever wrote, four in total) ready to potentially self-publish on Amazon. I wish I had the money to invest in editors, proofreaders, and cover artists, but at the moment, I don’t. So, I’m trying to do the majority of it, myself. Does anyone have any tips or stories on things I should be aware of or look out for? It would be very helpful for me before I go too in-depth with this, since I want to produce the best work I can given the little resources I have.

Here’s the covers and book synopsis I have currently made myself for the three of the four books. They aren’t amazing, I know, so any constructive criticism is appreciated. I went with photography options for now. I wish I could draw more seamlessly with my drawing tablet to draw the artwork instead, but it just doesn’t look professional enough to be anything I would try to sell. Anyway, if anyone has any advice, I’d greatly appreciate it.

The first Novel

Finally 2gether– Azura Henderson was your average 11 year-old when she went to a birthday party that would change her life forever. One bottle of wine in the hands of her 14 year-old best friend, and both teens are met with the terrifying reality of his actions, when Azura finds herself pregnant with triplets.

Deciding to honor God the best she can, she selflessly chooses to keep the children and forgive her friend rather than have him arrested. However, life refuses to give her a break as she faces one hardship after another.

Only by her hope in God and meeting an old face from her past, can she grow to overcome her scars, find joy in God’s purpose for her life, and find love in the most unexpected of ways.

The Second Novel

4ever a Father– Taking place eleven years after Finally 2gether, this sequel tells the story of Seth Henderson, one of Azura’s triplets, now a teenager himself and trying to get through high school. He finally thinks his life is going pretty well when he finds that his childhood crush, Farah, might feel the same as him. However, skeletons from both their past seem to want to infer with that. Seth finds himself battling to come to grips with forgiving his absentee father when he suddenly resurfaces in his life, and Farah encounters a young man who blames her for the poor childhood he was handed when his father was incarcerated for abducting Farah as a child.

Can Seth protect Farah from whatever Jeremy’s planning, or will he find himself unintentionally tangled in the web of Jeremy’s schemes as well? Can he find a way to overcome his hatred for his father, or will it require taking a step in the man’s shoes to finally forgive him?

The Third Novel

F8 of a Family– Taking place 17 years after 4ever a Father, Hope Henderson is a Deaf girl who wants nothing more than to graduate from her parents’ alma mater, a traditional high school, but can she handle the prejudices and bullying of classmates around her as they try to scare her back to the School for the Deaf? Then, she meets a charming, young Hearing man named Link and finds herself drawn to him and his own complicated story. She can’t help but be drawn to his side as she tries to trust him with her heart.

All the while, ghosts from her family’s past start to weave their way into her life, trying to destroy what three generations’ worth of forgiveness and love have tried to redeem. Will she overcome the darkness to continue seeking forgiveness? Will she help Link to find his own road of forgiveness for his complicated past?

Anyway so if anyone has any advice or stories of their own publishing experiences (either through Amazon or somewhere else), please let me know. Thanks.