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Reviews by Doris K. (Angora, MN)

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The Stone Home: A Novel
by Crystal Hana Kim
The Stone Home (11/8/2023)
This was a very difficult book to read. Though the subject matter is based on true facts they are almost unbelievable. It was not pleasant to read the details of how the people in these reformatory centers were treated and often killed. Also the Korean names of food and people were confusing.
The author writes well as descriptions of people and places put the reader at the scene in a vivid manner.
Although historical fiction is the genre I prefer to read I really can't recommend this book to anyone other than a person who has a particular interest in South Korean history.
The Montevideo Brief: A Thomas Grey Novel
by J. H. Gelernter
The Montevideo Brief (4/28/2023)
Historical fiction readers here is a book for you. The author combines sailing ships, pirates, government intrigue and even Beethoven in a fascinating story. Although this is a stand alone story it does have some references to the previous Thomas Grey novels. I would have liked to have read them first. Because of lengthy sections on armaments and sailing ships this book will probably be appreciated more by men than women. However I appreciated learning more about the early 1800s. The author's prologue and Historical notes added helpful information to understand the novel. Overall a good read.
The Long Ago: A Novel
by Michael McGarrity
The Long Ago (3/4/2023)
This is a good read about the strong ties between siblings especially those raised in a dysfunctional family. Ray's main agenda is finding his sister Barbara while he is home from leave during the Vietnam War. In the process of doing this he meets many interesting people and has a variety of experiences. These keep the book worth continuing to read. The story brings to light how the war affected not only the servicemen in the battles but the people and families left at home. This is a worthwhile read on many levels.
Pieces of Blue
by Holly Goldberg Sloan
Pieces of Blue (1/30/2023)
I was sent this book as a member of the First Impressions. This book is a good story about Lindsey, a widow with three children, Sena a gifted seven year old, Carlos a reliable 12 year old and Olivia described as “fourteen going on twenty four.” The story starts with a car rental being one of their biggest problems but as it progresses it reaches different levels. It ends up to be a well written book with major surprises. I would recommend Pieces of Blue to anyone looking for a good story.
In the Time of Our History
by Susanne Pari
In the Time of Our History (9/18/2022)
This is the story of an Iranian family in America. Although the main character, Mitra, was born in the United States her family held on to many aspects of the Iranian culture. Besides being a good story the reader will learn multiple characteristics of the Iranian people who are often unfairly judged.
At first I had a hard time relating to Mitra's behavior, especially towards her younger sister Anahita. However as the story progresses the author does well developing the depth of the persons in the book particularly Mitra and her mother,Shireen.

This book would make an excellent choice for a book club discussion. The various characters and their behaviors would challenge many and bring up differences of opinion which make these meetings worthwhile.
Daughters of the Flower Fragrant Garden: Two Sisters Separated by China's Civil War
by Zhuqing Li
Daughters of the Flower Fragrant Garden (5/26/2022)
This is an interesting memoir of two sisters separated by the communist takeover of China and the separation of Nationalists to Taiwan. The true story is narrated by a niece. The book is a descriptive analysis of women growing up in the thirties. Their stories are significant today due to the current interest in China.

I found it fascinating to actually read the details of people who lived during this time. The writing is excellent, even though this is true history it almost reads like a novel.

I will definitely recommend this book to my book club and other friends.
Peach Blossom Spring: A Novel
by Melissa Fu
Peach Blossom Spring (2/22/2022)
Historical Fiction fans, this is a book for you! It covers China from 1932 to 2019 so is also recent Chinese "history".

The book includes family dynamics along with problems and advantages involved in a mixed marriage, both for parents and children.

Many Chinese customs are illustrated through the lives of the interesting characters created by this author.

The Japan-China conflict and later the civil war in China were clarified for me through the experiences of the Chinese families.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Peach Blossom Spring and will recommend it to my many book loving friends and members of my book club.
Of Women and Salt
by Gabriela Garcia
Of Women and Salt (1/3/2021)
This book tells of the agony of women who fought for a better life. The importance of family ties is illustrated throughout the book. The author writes very well and gives an excellent picture of life first in Cuba then on to Mexico and finally back to Florida. Conditions in all of these areas are well described. Especially with the insight into the drug culture and how it affects people it is at times difficult to read. It reminded me of American Dirt which also told of how and why people are so desperate to get to the United States. Overall this is worth reading.
With or Without You: A Novel
by Caroline Leavitt
With or without you (4/28/2020)
This is a fascinating book. I had trouble putting it down. But what a great time to read. Because of the Shelter In Place order I was able to finish it in two days. The author beautifully describes the inner feelings and thoughts of the characters. The plot is challenging and keeps the reader wondering what will happen next. Any
discussion of what happens throughout the book would spoil the intrigue for the reader. A book club would have a great discussion about the choices made by the people in the book. I'm sure there would be a variety of opinions.
Daughter of the Reich: A Novel
by Louise Fein
Daughter of the Third Reich (3/9/2020)
This book is for those who prefer reading historical fiction, or those who have ever wondered how Hitler managed to gain control over the German people..Through the experiences of Hatty Heinrich the author relates the influence of Hitler and the Nazi party on ordinary people while also telling a good story.

It is fiction but told in a way that gives the reader the real essence of the people who lived in Germany at that time.

I would recommend reading the notes from the author found in the back of the book first. Her research reassures that the story is based on factual material.
This is a good book. I would recommend it to anyone whether a history fan or not.
Ordinary Girls: A Memoir
by Jaquira Díaz
Ordinary Girls (9/25/2019)
This was a difficult book to read. The story is almost unbelievable. To realize the author could overcome all the negative influences in her life is difficult to comprehend. Also it was hard to follow as she jumped from one time period to another without clues as to where she was. So many Spanish words were used without explanation it was easy to lose track of what was happening.
I know very little of the history of Puerto Rico. The details she wrote about such as how poorly these citizens have been treated by the United States government made me want to learn more about it. This is a sign of a good book.The descriptions of the people and the area are very well done.
Because of my earlier comments I could only give this book four stars. I will be very careful to whom I will recommend it.
The Volunteer: One Man, an Underground Army, and the Secret Mission to Destroy Auschwitz
by Jack Fairweather
The Volunteer (4/25/2019)
If you've ever wondered as I have, why the Jewish people didn't fight back against their treatment by the Germans in the WWII era read this book. In a very well written book Jack Fairweather tells us that they did. Using the writings of Withold and other sources he tells a fascinating true story. It covers not only Auschwitz but the time after the prisoners were freed. The people of Poland suffered terribly. Great research was done by Fairweather to uncover what really happened in Poland during and after World War II. Not only for History "buffs", this book should be read by all to get a true picture of persecution in Poland from 1938-1948. Although it tells the true picture of life in Auschwitz it is very "readable" and shows how difficult it was to convince the outside world of what was really happening.
Courting Mr. Lincoln
by Louis Bayard
Courting Mr. Lincoln (2/10/2019)
Readers of historical fiction will want to read this book..I have read much about Lincoln however this book tells about the early years when he first met Mary Todd and his friendship with Joshua Speed. Although it is fiction much is based on historical facts as all good historical fiction needs to be. The courtship of Mary and Abe is written in a fascinating way and brings to life the culture of that time in our history. I have now purchased the biography of Mary Todd Lincoln mentioned by the author. Reading historical fiction often leads to finding more facts.
I rated this book 4 stars because at times it did progress slowly.
Overall this is a good read for anyone interested in history.
The Last Romantics
by Tara Conklin
The Last Romantic (12/11/2018)
Tara Conkin has written a interesting book about family dynamics. Although the Skinner family could be described as dysfunctional there is a strong bond between them. Each member of the family is unique as shown by how they react to the circumstances in their lives. The story jumps back and forth through periods of time but the author makes it easy to understand what period of time is being told about.
The characters are well developed, the reader gets to know each one.
Anyone who who is interested in family dynamics and chooses to read this book will find it well worth the time.
Golden Child
by Claire Adam
Golden Child (10/1/2018)
I would not recommend this book. The plot was strange and hard to understand. The characters were not well developed I could not relate to any of them or understand the motivation behind their behavior. The author writes well. Her descriptions of land, homes, scenery and sounds are well done. At least to me the people didn't seem believable. There were some good interactions between the twins but the whole plot just didn't make it in my opinion.
Fly Girls: How Five Daring Women Defied All Odds and Made Aviation History
by Keith O'Brien
Fly Girls (6/7/2018)
In our day we take flying for granted. This interesting book shows how the early navigators worked and even died to further the cause of safe navigation by plane. This book is fascinating in the way the early navigation story is told. As seen by his notes Keith O'Brien has done exhaustive research in order to make the people in his book come to life, not be just statistics. Although the women aviators are the heart of the book , the history of navigation comes through in an interesting way. Overall an excellent read.
A Place for Us
by Fatima Farheen Mirza
A Place For Us (3/21/2018)
This is a well written novel which gives the reader great insight into the lives of a Muslim family living in the United States. The wife, Layla, came with her husband to America and tried to keep her culture intact. Raising three children who were born in the United States and adapted to the culture in various ways was a challenge. The author shows the difficulties of trying to raise the children in the Muslim beliefs and yet wanting them to be accepted and have happy fulfilled lives. How each person in the family adapts to the stresses (especially after 9/11) that present themselves makes fascinating reading.

Throughout the book the author brilliantly shows how each one reacts as they face a variety of situations. This is a good read that would lead to an interesting discussion in a book group.
Only Child
by Rhiannon Navin
Only Child (12/23/2017)
This was a dynamic book...It was sometimes hard to read because of the subject matter. However, when it is narrated by a six year old there are many classic statements. One example is when Zach goes with his father to hear the mayor speak: "The mayor didn't have a lot of hair on his head, only around the back. He was very tall...so he was bending down to talk in the microphone...the top of his head was shiny and he looked like a regular person, not like the boss of a whole city." The book is filled with wonderful thoughts like this.

The innocence and wisdom of a small child was portrayed very well by this author. This is a good read for anyone, but keep the tissue box handy.
The Days When Birds Come Back
by Deborah Reed
The Days When Birds Come Back (11/4/2017)
I had a hard time writing this review as it is a beautifully written book. The descriptions of people and places are done so well the reader can really picture them. However it was a depressing book to read, one calamity after another and people who had a hard time relating to each other or themselves.

What I found fascinating were the hints of a previous happening making me want to know more about the background. This kept me continuing to read, truly a book "hard to put down". A book club would have a good time discussing this book. I definitely will read another book by Deborah Reed and hope it's not quite so unhappy.
The Garden of Small Beginnings
by Abbi Waxman
The Garden of Small Beginnings (4/7/2017)
I would recommend this book to someone who is searching for a good, light read about interesting people. The wry humor at times is biting but if the reader understands the humor it is acceptable to the story.
I may be more sensitive at this point as I recently lost my husband. I wouldn't recommend this book to a new widow. Maybe next year it would have been easier to relate to some of the narrator's comments.
Lilian's relationship's with her children, sister, mother and Richard are well written Each character is brought to life in his/her own style. The children's personalities are delightful and so true to life.
I enjoyed the amusing chapter openings which were supposedly tips for gardeners.
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