MLA Platinum Award Press Release

Reviews by Wendy F. (Kalamazoo, MI)

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Close My Eyes
by Sophie McKenzie
Close My Eyes - Suspense!! (4/23/2013)
Sophie McKenzie's Close My Eyes was a great suspenseful read. Hearing Geniver's story of heartbreak from losing her daughter to the unbelievable possibility of Beth being alive leads the reader along a series of twists and turns. You are not sure if the cover up is real and you are constantly wondering who might be involved. It begs the question, do we really know the people close to us? An engaging and satisfying mystery!
Where You Can Find Me: A Novel
by Sheri Joseph
Where You Can Find Me (3/13/2013)
Unfortunately I was disappointed in this book. I thought the premise sounded so interesting and was looking forward to reading it however it just didn't quite measure up. I felt Lark got lost in the story and could have been developed a lot more. Marlene seemed unbelievably permissive once they arrived in Costa Rica especially the way she was portrayed in the beginning of the book during the time Caleb was gone. It held my interest enough that I wanted to finish to find out what happened but I found it dragged a bit.
Calling Me Home
by Julie Kibler
Journey (12/4/2012)
Calling Me Home affected me more than any book has in a very long time. The emotions that run through Isabelle's story of her past and the current difficulties that Dorrie is dealing with bring us a rich and satisfying tale.

Their bond grows as Isabelle unravels her life in words along the road from Texas to Cincinnati. O. Henry-like twists occur that take your breathe away.

Friendship often does come in the most unlikely places. This couple's friendship is truly a special one that deepens as Isabelle's story is revealed. Calling Me Home brought laughter as well as tears. Journey along with these amazing women and find love and longing as their journey moves forward.
Indiscretion
by Charles Dubow
Indiscretion (10/30/2012)
Great read! I fell in love with the characters throughout their happy times as well as struggles. Although there was a familiarity about certain parts of the story, I didn't want it to end. The beautiful and loving Maddy, handsome, witty Harry, the newcomer Claire and of course Walter, all caught up in a complex web of emotion. Thank you Charles Dubow for giving me this engrossing read.
The Woman at the Light: A Novel
by Joanna Brady
Woman at the Light (7/16/2012)
Really enjoyed this book. Good story with love, loyalty and deception. After recently visiting Key West, it was interesting to get a bit of the history of the area. The Heroine, Emily Lowrie, shows so much strength in taking over the lighthouse and running the family. All of the trials she and her family endures and she continues to over come are engrossing to read. Joanna Brady gives us the gamut of emotions and adventure in this one for sure.
Wife 22: A Novel
by Melanie Gideon
Wife 22 (4/27/2012)
I needed a novel for a bit of an escape from the stress in my life when Wife 22 arrived. It was just what I needed. Melanie Gideon brings us into Alice Buckle's household where we get to see the lives of a long married couple and their two teenage kids. Alice is a bit bored with her life and decides to engage in a marriage survey that she receives via email. That's when we learn even more about this family and what goes on in a 40-something woman's mind when let to wander. I really enjoyed the story although it might have been a little predictable in parts. Fun and thoughtful read!
Wayward Saints
by Suzzy Roche
Wayward Saints (11/6/2011)
Mary Saint left Swallow NY to become a raunchy rock star but never really shook the pull of home. This was an entertaining book but some things I felt were never really explained. What really happened with Garbagio? What was the back story of Mr. De Sockie? The characters were engaging and I would like to know more about them. Maybe in the next book?
Next to Love
by Ellen Feldman
Beautifully Written (7/25/2011)
Next to Love brings us into the minds and hearts of those affected by war. The setting happens to be WWII however it could be describing families from any war engagement. From the very first chapter when Babe is pulling the death notices off of the teletype machine, this book grabs your heart. We see not only how the lonely military wives deal with their time alone but also how their relationships change upon their loved ones return. We get to see how there is no “after the war” because the war continues in their memories. Thank you to Ellen Feldman for her keen insight and beautiful story.
The Tender Mercy of Roses: A Novel
by Anna Michaels
Tender Mercy of Roses (4/12/2011)
The Tender Mercy of Roses is a look into family secrets kept and how they can affect those generations to come. The prose in this book is at times insightful, lyrical and homespun. Pony Jones’ ghost meanders through the story to uncover secrets of the rodeo as well as those of her family. The intertwining of souls lost and found introduce us to Pony, Jo Beth, and Titus and how their lives are interconnected. I really enjoyed this one!
Minding Ben: A Novel
by Victoria Brown
Minding Ben (1/30/2011)
A look into the life of an undocumented immigrant and the nanny community she moves into in New York. Grace is just trying to get by in her new country and take good care of her charge Ben. Ben's parents take advantage of the situation, promising to file immigration paperwork if she "works out" as Ben's nanny. Their blackmail like tactics give Grace hope while forcing her into more and more additional duties. We meet Grace's nanny friends who also are going through similar circumstances. I did enjoy the book however parts of it were familiar and reminded me of Nanny Diaries in the Trinidadian community.
The Beauty of Humanity Movement: A Novel
by Camilla Gibb
Beauty of Humanity Movement (12/13/2010)
An interesting look at post-war Vietnam and the perils of living in a Communist country. It is difficult to imagine not being able to express yourself artistically due to the laws of the land however that is what many experienced in Vietnam during war time and beyond. This is an intimate portrait of those who survived the war and their descendants and what they must endure as artists. Character development was a little weak and I had a hard time distinguishing between them in the beginning. Old Man Hung is able to show his own creativity through his meticulously made pho where others have had to express themselves by going underground. His passion for other's work is shown through his memories. I enjoyed this book and would recommend it, especially to those who are blessed to live in our country and can freely communicate through their art without fear of reprisals.
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter: A Novel
by Tom Franklin
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter (9/29/2010)
This book grabbed my attention immediately. The story unfolds of two men, one African-American and one white, who meet as young boys. Their lives entwine and then diverge due to one being accused of a horrific crime. Through a series of flashbacks we learn how their friendship formed and how it fell apart. Now in a crucial moment of desperation, Larry Ott reaches out to his old friend Silas "32" Jones. It is a well told tale of relationships and betrayal. Franklin spoke to me on every page through his keen sense of verbal timing. I would highly recommend this book, especially to those who have reconnected with someone from their childhood.
Learning to Lose: A Novel
by David Trueba
Disappointed (5/13/2010)
Very disappointing book. The plot sounded so good but it truly just plodded along. And extremely long!!
Pearl of China: A Novel
by Anchee Min
Pearl of China (2/9/2010)
Anchee Min paints a vivid portrait of life in Communist China that is at times breathtaking and at others heartbreaking. The story is told through the eyes of a peasant girl, Willow, who is befriended by the local missionary’s daughter, Pearl S. Buck.

The friendship blossoms and strengthens as the girls grow up. They experience each others lives intimately and share each other’s sorrows. As Pearl’s mother says, life is about being forced to make choices, and each woman learns to make the right choice for their lives as the world seems to fall apart around them.

Pearl utters the timeless words, “I love my country, so much so that I hate her for not being all I want her to be.” Pearl’s country was not the place she was born but rather China, the country in which she came alive. Pearl believes that “all spirits are equal before God” and she communicates this through her writing.

The lyrical tone of this novel opened my heart and mind to want more. A truly memorable read.
Serena: A Novel
by Ron Rash
Serena (9/17/2009)
A book filled with the lust for power. Serena Pemberton and her husband set out to take the lumber business by storm and they don't seem to care how they do this. This book really digs into the psyches of two power hungry individuals who have little care for others. This is a good read but I do wish that we would have found more out about Serena's childhood and what made her what she grew up to be.
Night Navigation
by Ginnah Howard
Night Navigator (3/12/2009)
This is an interesting book detailing the lives of a drug addict and his enabling mother. The plot moves through a short time period in their lives and clues to familial relationship that may have led to the son's addiction bubble to the surface throughout. I enjoyed this but the book left me with unanswered questions about the family history. It was also a little slow starting.
Something Like Beautiful: One Single Mother's Story
by Asha Bandele
Poignant story (12/9/2008)
Something Like Beautiful is a poignant story of a single mother that truly captures the difficulties of women everywhere. The language of this book is beautiful and poetic. This book portrays the African American experience as well as the trials of single mothers from all cultures. This is a good read.
Sweet Mandarin: The Courageous True Story of Three Generations of Chinese Women and Their Journey from East to West
by Helen Tse
Sweet Mandarin (5/22/2008)
This book is a great journey through China and beyond and tells the story of three generations of a Chinese family. The golden thread which weaves the generations together is food. We hear about soy sauce, Lily’s chicken curry, Mabel’s claypot chicken, among other dishes. The aromas and flavors of these meals come to life as we watch the triumphs and tragedies of this family. One of the early chapters begins with a Chinese saying: “A child’s life is like a piece of paper on which every one makes a mark.” We see this time and again as each family member pens their mark on another. These women are raised to be strong and independent amid difficult times of loss. They always seem to make it through with a new sense of hope. It’s an enjoyable read!
Soldier's Heart: Reading Literature Through Peace and War at West Point
by Elizabeth D. Samet
Soldier's Heart tugs at the heart (2/7/2008)
In this time of unjust war, it is heart wrenching to read the stories of men and women preparing for war. Their education is often secondary but in this book we see how their feelings may change due to their experience or how their perceptions differ from those of us that do not have to experience these horrors. Connecting classic literature to what they are going through is truly a great way to gain insight into their psyches. Elizabeth Samet is able to convey the mixed emotions she had in becoming a part of the military family as well as how she associates herself with her students and relates to them. A good read.
Mozart's Sister
by Rita Charbonnier
The Forgtten Sister (10/29/2007)
The story of Mozart's Sister is definitely the tale of the forgotten one. Rita Charbonnier's rich language brings this story to life and makes the reader experience Nannerl's pain. Being a male, her brother's success far overshadows Nannerl's equally impressive abilities. The account of how she handles this situation is an enjoyable one.
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