Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Blog Tour Stop and Giveaway: Block 24 by Evan Tyler

A re-emergence of the past…

Natalie Clarke might be spiteful at best and vicious at worst, but was that reason enough for Phillip 
Gise to leave her lonely and diseased? Fortunately, she has a set of devious plans that just might keep her busy enough to forget her present situation.

Guy Lewis has played Best Friend Extraordinaire to Natalie since grade school, supporting her through all of her daily drama. This time around, Guy runs into his own troubles when his fierce, wealthy manager gives him the type of attention he never asked for…or expected.

Julia Clarke, Natalie’s younger sister, has arrived in Brooklyn to uncover their grandmother’s secret life in Block 24, the site of Auschwitz’s little-known brothel. What Julia discovers proves more relevant in the present age than ever before.

Both heady and sobering, Block 24 is a look at the ways evil from the past can so insidiously visit the present.

    Philip lay back on the bed, resettling the pillow behind his head and crossing his feet at the end of the bed.  Natalie stared at his toes.  “You know,” he said, “my mother went a little crazy when she found out I wasn't a virgin anymore. She sent me to a priest.” He chuckled. “I was nineteen.”

    Natalie gasped. “What, is she insane? Or just a slut-shamer?” 

    Philip climbed up to her end of the bed, lying on his side in front of her, his face a kiss away from hers. “Neither. She raised me with a lot of faith values. Church every Sunday. Sacraments. Catholic school. All of it.”  He looked at her carefully, sliding a stray eyelash from beneath her eye and staring at it on his index finger. “My dad and mom left their countries to practice their faith freely. It’s a big deal to them.”

    Natalie dropped her eyes. “What about their kids? They can’t expect you guys to be who they are. Or believe what they believe.”

    “They do. I'm still a Catholic, baby.” He laughed. “A pretty fucked up one, but still. And all three of my sisters are still virgins.”

    She looked back up. “How do you know that?”

    “Male intuition.”
    She shook her head.  “So, what about me? Could you tell I was a whore when you first met me?”

    Philip gave a short laugh, shaking his head, rolling his eyes, ultimately dismissing the question. “My mother and father were both virgins when they married. Kinda wild, when I think about it.”

    Natalie humphed  “Not wild. The exact opposite of wild, really. And while I’m sure that your parents' so-called purity really impresses you, I hate to break it to you—they're not virgins anymore.”

    “What gave that away?” He smiled.

    Natalie wanted with all her indignant heart to wilt that smile. “I’m sure they enjoy their sex life. Sure your dad gets some even more than you do. Sure your mom's a super freak.  It aint a crime, Philip.”

    “She’s married, Nat.” 

    “And you’re not,” she said, mocking his stillness with her syrupy, school-teacher voice.  “You’re not them. We're not your fucking parents.  We’ve got no reason to feel bad. You've got absolutely no reason to feel guilty.”  She went suddenly into crude mode, her voice gruff and loud.  “You’re Philip Fucking Gise.  The original PG.”

    He looked down, his eyelashes casting a shadow right below his eyes. “Well, we both could afford to be a little more G-rated, Nat.  Come on,  baby, let’s get up.”

    She reached for his wrist before he could slide off the bed. “If I'm such a whore, why are you with me? Why do you fuck with me? Better yet, why do you fuck me? There are enough girls like Julia in the world. You could go find one.” 

    He looked at her, solemn. “We're not gonna have this talk, Natalie.” He stood up. “It's getting late.”

My Take
I'm going to ahead and apologize for my review in advance. This sucker is going to be all over the place as I still have no idea how to wrap my head around this book and it's twisty turns. Block 24 is unlike most books that I like to read. Evan Tyler weaves an intricate tale set both in the present time and in 1940s Auschwitz. In the present we're treated to the self-destructive Natalie, her best friend Guy, and her on-again, off-again boyfriend Philip. At the same time, Natalie's sister, Julia, is filming their Bubbe who is re-telling about her time spent at Auschwitz with her younger sister Avi, and a sympathetic handsome SS soldier, Hans. 

These two tales are very different, yet you can find parallel that are alarmingly similar. Hans's circumstances are what led him down the dark path to the SS, yet Natalie's choices are the cause of her downfall. Han was easy to love, even though he work with the SS. Natalie, on the other hand, because increasingly difficult to sympathize with. That being said, the twisted part of me kept rooting for her and Philip, even though it was clear that Philip deserved better. 

One thing that was interesting to me was Natalie's disease. It kept being brought up and I was so curious to find out what horrible thing Philip had done to her, because it seemed completely out of character for him. Philip's the good guy, so I almost didn't want to know the answers to my questions. I can honestly say that I was shocked when the revelation was made. The thought had never even crossed my mind, and it broke my heart into a million pieces. 

Block 24 is a heart-wrenching, emotional tale that shows us that even the lowest can seek redemption, but he has to want it. It also highlights the difference between circumstance and choice. Both can lead to very dark places, but only choice can truly seek redemption. 

As I said, this is not normally my type of book. I'd like to have seen more relationship development between Philip and Natalie. I don't truly believe that Natalie had done enough to earn her redemption, but perhaps I am too unforgiving. I'd also like to have seen more of a conclusion with Guy, as well with Julia. Even for Natalie and Philip. It all wrapped up a little too quickly for me, but it was still a gripping read. 

About Evan Tyler
Evan Tyler is an author by day, a lead guitarist by night. Her favourite authors are Toni Morrison and John Steinbeck. Her favourite guitarists are Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughn. She aspires to be like all of her favorites. Her debut novel,  A Happy Accident, was the merging of her musical and literary aspirations. Evan's second novel, Block 24, is a venture in a whole new direction.

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