MLA Platinum Award Press Release

Reviews by Doris K. (Angora, MN)

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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 DĂ­az
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 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.
Edgar and Lucy
by Victor Lodato
Edgar and Lucy (11/22/2016)
This is a dynamic book. The characters exhibit classic dysfunctional personalities. However, the author does a remarkable job of describing how each person feels and thinks, even the dog, Jack.
The people in this book have a variety of mental problems, addictions and fears. Yet the reader gains and an understanding of and compassion for each one.
The only weakness I found was the last sections dragged on too long. To describe in more detail would be a "plot spoiler."
I was fascinated by this book and can visualize an in-depth discussion by book club members.
The Comet Seekers
by Helen Sedgwick
The Comet Seekers (9/9/2016)
This is an interesting story based on many eras and a variety of people connected by their fascination with comets. We learn early the Roisin and Francois are together in Antarctica. How they get there is a convoluted story involving many generations of two separate families. The story line jumps from 1066-2017 and the years in between.
Basically I enjoyed the book, but the short scenes are rather distracting and don't allow for sufficient character development. This is the main reason I chose to give it 4 stars instead of 5.
The Book That Matters Most: A Novel
by Ann Hood
The Book That Matters Most (6/3/2016)
This was a good read. The theme of the Book Club is the same as the book title. This was an interesting concept and I may suggest it to my book club when it's time to choose books again. Because I have read 8 of the 10 books mentioned the book discussions were very interesting if brief. Other book lovers would enjoy finding out which books were chosen.

There are many characters in this book. At times it's a bit frustrating to have to look back to see what happened before as the chapters jump around quite a bit. However, in the end they all tied together nicely. Maggie's life style is quite extreme and probably did not need to be described in such detail but the author made her point. To say any more would be a "spoiler". I would recommend this book to those who are looking for a good story.
The Secret Language of Stones: A Daughters of La Lune Novel
by M. J. Rose
The Secret Language of Stones (3/26/2016)
This book is historical fiction,my favorite, about a Russian family living in France in 1918. The main character, Opaline, has supernatural gifts relating to the gemstones with which she constructs jewelry. This combines to make a fascinating read.

Although I am really not into the psychic world I did enjoy this book and would recommend it to others. I can definitely see a book club having a lively discussion about this story.
The Return of the Witch
by Paula Brackston
The Return of the Witch (1/5/2016)
This was an interesting story. I took the time to read the preceding book, "The Witch's Daughter" and felt this was worthwhile. It gave an understanding to the background in many situations. "The Return of the Witch" could stand by itself but is much better if the first book has been read.

The book is well written and keeps the reader's interest. It does get a bit tiresome with the same plot lines used repeatedly. The characters are well developed, especially if you have read the previous book.

This is a good fantasy with almost believable "witches." It also shows a variety of historical settings and how people who were believed to be witches were treated. Overall a good read.
The Two-Family House
by Lynda Cohen Loigman
Two Family House (11/2/2015)
The idea of two families (husbands and brothers and own a business together) living in the same house raises "red flags" right away. The way these families interact makes for some interesting situations. However, I found most of the book to be rather depressing. The characters needed to get a better attitude about their lives.
Although the author shows how children inherit certain traits and inclinations from their parents this is somewhat overdone.

The overall theme of the book was worth reading, the last quarter of this story saved it, so if you start it, it is worth finishing.

Mostly because of the negative tone, I gave it only three stars.
The Shore: A Novel
by Sara Taylor
The Shore (5/26/2015)
The author has a genuine gift for story telling, however these stories are for those who enjoy dark fiction. I am not one of them. There was too much about drugs, violence, sex etc. in most of the stories.

Even though the stories were all connected by location I felt I had to read them as a series of short stories. Only a few connected with other characters previously introduced.

I do look forward to other books from this promising author, hopefully on lighter themes.
A Good Family
by Erik Fassnacht
A Good Family (5/6/2015)
This is a powerful book. The author informs the reader of powerful feelings of each of the members of the family. Erik Fassnacht makes us feel the horrors of war, the discomfort of not belonging, the comfort of drugs, and the feelings of discontent with family and employment. He also has many positive aspects of family life and the importance of friendships.

It's hard to describe without giving away the plot but I found I needed to keep reading as there was always something new on the next page.

The author's descriptions of scenery, feelings and dreams make it a fascinating book. At first I thought men would prefer this book rather than women but as I got into the subplots and relationships it is a book for anyone who wants a good read.
Her Name Is Rose
by Christine Breen
Her Name Is Rose (2/2/2015)
This is an interesting story of a complicated Irish family. The beginning seems to be rather depressing. In the first two pages Iris loses her job and is apprehensive about a mammogram. How she deals with all of this is developed to make a good family story portraying the love of parents for their children. There are enough "twists and turns' to keep the reader interested and see how all the characters fit together.

The author is skilled at portraying how a person feels at any given moment. On page 191 "the energy rising in him, like a tornado, was so intense he had to move so as not to fall" is one example of many descriptions which keep the reader's interest.

A Book Club would be able to have a spirited discussion about some of the decisions made by the characters. Overall this is a good read.
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