MLA Platinum Award Press Release

Reviews by Beverly D. (Palm Harbor, FL)

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Migrations: A Novel
by Charlotte McConaghy
A Stunner! (4/11/2020)
Beautifully written, Migrations is a novel we need to read NOW. Our vulnerable planet, in the not too distant future, is losing species and a desperately broken woman is trying to help stem the tide. This is an adventure story, a love story and an examination of what means HOME and how and where we can find it. Relationships, with both nature and people are in the forefront of this story. The author keeps the parallel stories well defined and flowing so well that one never loses interest. I would highly recommend this book as a book club title....lots of important and timely topics for discussion.
The Paris Hours: A Novel
by Alex George
if you love Paris... (2/17/2020)
If you enjoyed the movie Midnight In Paris, you will love The Paris Hours. Early 20th century Paris, inhabited by Proust, Stein, Hemingway, Baker et al is viewed through the lens of four ordinary Parisians whose lives will intersect at the end of these 24 hours. Love, loss, memories of war and its impact on these lives is beautifully told as the author weaves current happenings with painful memories . Paris really comes alive as a character in its own right.
Father of Lions: One Man's Remarkable Quest to Save the Mosul Zoo
by Louise Callaghan
eye-opening! (10/13/2019)
Trying to live a "normal" life in Mosul during the Daesh occupation, the main character, Abu Laith, focused on saving the animals in the Mosul zoo...his special friends...sometimes to the detriment of his family. The research and commitment of the author to take the reader to an unknown place was astonishing. To get this perspective on the Taliban occupation was educational as well as necessary. The families whose stories are told here bring us into their nightmare. Highly recommended for book clubs that enjoy non-fiction.
The Seine: The River that Made Paris
by Elaine Sciolino
LOVED! (9/11/2019)
This book is a gem for lovers of all things or most things, French. There is history old and new, art & architecture, personal anecdotes and a true appreciation of the story of the Seine. The author kept the narrative flowing and easily stitched the past and present into an easily read story. Highly recommended for readers of non-fiction/history.
Beirut Hellfire Society
by Rawi Hage
Not my cup of tea... (5/13/2019)
I wanted to like this book...guess I just wasn't ready for the author's loquacious/ outrageous style and his very dark humour. I found the subject matter interesting enough but could not hook into the story....
More News Tomorrow: A Novel
by Susan Richards Shreve
A Gem (4/9/2019)
I really liked this book. A generational murder mystery that needs to be solved for the 70 year old protagonist Georgie. But the drama surrounding the current generation almost overtakes the original murder. There were multiple narrators but I found it easy to follow and felt that Ms. Shreve's key characters were well developed. This is a GREAT book club title. I will suggest it to my reading friends.
Sounds Like Titanic: A Memoir
by Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman
Best kind of memoir (1/8/2019)
What a captivating read! Glad the violin/Middle East thing didn't work out so well, for Ms Hindman is certainly a gifted writer. The non-linear telling of her story was well done from my perspective and the repetitive tour notes made it feel probably JUST like touring felt. Much of her self-discovery was spot on, reminding us what it was like to be a young woman trying to become self sufficient no matter what the cost. I highly recommend this book for book clubs both adult and young adult. Well done,
Golden Child
by Claire Adam
WOW. (10/8/2018)
A family surviving in poverty, betrayal of the worst kind, and impossible choices, this is the story of Golden Child. The writing in this novel is sublime...just enough description to put you in rural Trinidad and feel the oppressiveness of both the weather and a family life that will shatter. For a first effort I find this novel astonishing. Highly recommended for book clubs!
Vox
by Christina Dalcher
chick lit Handmaid's Tale... (4/25/2018)
So much potential....disappointing execution. A timely, possibly feasible cautionary tale for today's political climate; an easy provocative read but the writing is uneven and often awkward;( too much medical/techno jargon...we KNOW what an MRI is...) There are many disagreeable characters with little plot involvement. At times this story was dystopic, at times too much like chick-lit. I also had a difficult time with Jean's non-linear narration. Perhaps a SERIOUS edit could help...
The Girl Who Smiled Beads: A Story of War and What Comes After
by Elizabeth Weil, Clemantine Wamariya
Powerful memoir...a MUST read! (2/17/2018)
We no longer need to imagine the horrors of the Rwandan genocide; Clementine Wamariya has set it out for us in an astonishingly brutal examination of a life in constant upheaval as a six year old. And all of these experiences formed the amazing woman she has become today, even as she fights with the conflicts she still keeps inside. The writing grabbed me from the first page there was an immediacy and flow to this story; the back and forth from Africa to the U.S. worked well here. The break from despair in Africa (although sometimes joy)melds well with the hope in Chicago (although sometimes despair). A perfect book club selection!
The Milk Lady of Bangalore: An Unexpected Adventure
by Shoba Narayan
COWS !!! Who knew??? (12/13/2017)
What a delightful and "unexpected adventure". The author's return home after years in NYC offer a perfect opportunity to educate both her daughters, AND us on some of the more interesting customs and beliefs of the Hindu religion specifically and India in general. Cows are an integral part of everyday life and we learn why through Narayan's friendship with the milk lady, Sarala. Their daily interactions give an insight into the give and take that makes India...India. Highly recommended.
Never Coming Back
by Alison McGhee
Six stars! (9/5/2017)
This was the best book that I have read this year. I had tears streaming down my face more than once. Alison McGhee just "gets" the whole mother/daughter dynamic and has been able to put it down on paper without being overly cynical or overly sweet. Her writing evoked so many disparate emotions. Some of the passages were absolutely sublime. I highly recommend this book for adult readers as well as young adults...a perfect book club entry. Bravo!
A Piece of the World: A Novel
by Christina Baker Kline
A quiet gem (12/26/2016)
The quietly contemplative story of the inspiration for Christina's World. The lyrical writing invites us into her world, a hardscrabble farm life from which she never escapes.Kline's sense of place and the times makes her story memorable and moving. Highly recommended...excellent book club choice!
I Am No One
by Patrick Flanery
Too Close for Comfort. (7/27/2016)
The writing is chock full of descriptors, asides, but never overbearing; simply lyrical. The subject is one we ALL need to consider...how paranoid does one need to be in this age of hyper (if sub rosa) surveillance ? "He is a completely ordinary American whose life is no longer private"... and how would I react if this was my story? I found this book to be intelligent, yet unnerving ...read at your own risk.
North of Crazy: A Memoir
by Neltje
Neltje (6/13/2016)
Another poor little rich girl story...A seriously dysfunctional family forces Neltje to claim her own way in the world. Unfortunately, getting to her new life in Wyoming takes up a lot of the story and I found the writing to be uninteresting, "and then, and then"....Once established, her story and writing becomes more passionate and interesting; however I would find it difficult to recommend.
The Last Confession of Thomas Hawkins
by Antonia Hodgson
18th Cent London at its finest! (1/5/2016)
A quick, entertaining read for those who enjoy historic fiction laced with true events. Well researched and including the "History Behind" I appreciated the fast paced storytelling and the assortment of characters...gents, criminals AND royals. Based on her descriptions I can see the streets, houses and back alleys of 18th century London. This is a good choice for book clubs looking for different discussion topics.
Hunters in the Dark
by Lawrence Osborne
Too many words... (11/18/2015)
Why say "It was a dark, rainy night" when you can add so many descriptors to change the statement into a literary masterpiece??? This was a very difficult read for me, even though the locale was a big draw. Robert was not a likable character and his "whatever" attitude just grated on me...Davuth, however WAS interesting but was used indifferently. The ending was too neat...full circle, no resolution. Disappointing all around.
Girl Waits with Gun
by Amy Stewart
WOW. (7/8/2015)
Loved this book. Smart, interesting subject matter, very well written and fun! Seemed like an old fashioned serial in some ways. Constance is a well developed character and I'd like to see what happens next with her and her family. I would recommend this novel for historical fiction lovers, young adults and book clubs....and people from New Jersey!
What Doesn't Kill Her: A Reeve LeClaire Series Novel
by Carla Norton
ZZZZZZZZ (5/11/2015)
To quote author Debra Doyle...... "The Author is Making a Point; things work out the way they do because The Author's Point Requires It." I have become skeptical of all thrillers...why do all the protagonists seem to have almost super human abilities...I would feel so much better if they were called fantasy or sci-fi. Although I did not care for the story, so predictable, the writing itself was well done. It will do well in a Dan Brown, John Grisham loving readership.
Shocking Paris: Soutine, Chagall and the Outsiders of Montparnasse
by Stanley Meisler
Outsiders (1/7/2015)
If I could rate 3.5 I would. The amount of information in this book regarding Soutine & the School of Paris is prodigious; however the repetition of documented facts (Modigliani's cafe antics, Soutine's Russian accented French) simply became annoying. The writing style seemed at times to be distracted, adding bits and pieces as if just recalled. However, the look at bohemian life in Montparnasse gave a very good impression of what it was like to be an emigre artist trying to "make it". Perhaps a larger issue for these emigres became the constant fear of the French police and the German Gestapo and how it shaped their lives and ultimately their art. As the "unknown" of the title, Soutine was the epitome of the tortured artist; the one who author Meisler calls one of the most influential artists of the twentieth century. Shocking Paris is a good start to study the School of Paris.
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