Reviews by Wendy F. (Kalamazoo, MI)

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Take My Hand
by Dolen Perkins-Valdez
Heartwrenching (9/21/2021)
Take my hand is a heartwrenching and beautiful story of horrible medical experiments being performed on your black girls. Civil is a kind and caring nurse who discovers this atrocity and fights to shine a light on these acts. It's so sad to know that though this was based in 1970, our healthcare system still is full of bias and racism.
New York, My Village: A Novel
by Uwem Akpan
Disappointed (9/6/2021)
I started out really enjoying this book and the odd adventures of Ekong but about midway through the book I was struggling.
Morningside Heights: A Novel
by Joshua Henkin
Great read (4/6/2021)
Really enjoyed this story of a blended family and the unfortunate things they suffer through over the years. The characters are developed quite well and it reads beautifully. Pru is faced with a difficult diagnosis for Spence and this novel shows how she deals with it with and without her daughter and Spence's son. These people are so real and the situation is heart wrenching. The relationship that Pru forms with Spence's caretaker Ginny is also a vital part of the story.
The Personal Librarian
by Marie Benedict, Victoria Christopher Murray
The Personal Librarian (2/16/2021)
What a lovely story of hidden history! I loved learning about Belle and the writing was excellent. I have read many of Marie Benedict's novels and enjoyed them all. This time she teamed up with Victoria Christopher Murray to tell the story of Belle de Costa Greene, J.P. Morgan's personal librarian, who is an African American woman presenting as white. The constant trepidation that she feels being concerned that she will be found out and how she was able to make herself so successful in the art world make a tempting tale.
Stories from Suffragette City
by M.J. Rose, Fiona Davis
Needed something more (11/2/2020)
Some of the stories were good however some dragged. I liked the concept but it fell short for me. I felt it could have covered more about the planning of the march.
And They Called It Camelot: A Novel of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis
by Stephanie Marie Thornton
America's Queen (12/25/2019)
Loved this book. Stephanie Marie Thornton is able to look into the souls of her characters to truly convey their hearts. We all know the story of Jacqueline Kennedy but this one brings her closer to us. Her strength and grace are incomparable. It helped a country and a world to get through horrible tragedies. But in this book we witness her vulnerability and devotion to her children throughout her struggles.
Lady Clementine
by Marie Benedict
Bravo to Clemmie!! (12/1/2019)
I knew very little about Clementine Churchill before reading this book. Now I just want to learn more. She was a formidable woman who truly was the strength behind one of the most powerful men in the world at the time. It hearkens back to the relationship between Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt. This book is well written, and I lost myself in its beautiful prose. Looking forward to reading more by Marie Benedict. She is a superb historical writer.
Never Have I Ever
by Joshilyn Jackson
Suspenseful read (4/20/2019)
Joshilyn Jackson's Never Have I Ever is a great read. The suspenseful story of what happens when a new neighbor presents herself and seems to know everyone's secrets. But Roux has some secrets of her own. I really enjoyed the way that each character's mysteries were revealed throughout the book and also the way that their lives intertwined. Amy Whey seems to be the pillar of the community but then we learn her story.
American Princess: A Novel of First Daughter Alice Roosevelt
by Stephanie Marie Thornton
Loved it! (11/24/2018)
I loved this book! Reading the accounts of the historical Alice Roosevelt Longworth was truly a pleasure. Alice had a complicated relationship with her father Theodore which is reminiscent of many of us. Scandals abound in a time where these things were kept under wraps. This colorful character was a true patriot although I was disappointed to learn that she was not sold on women's suffrage. It was also interesting to hear about the falling out with the other Roosevelts, Franklin and Eleanor. Ms. Thornton's writing was a delight.
The Kennedy Debutante
by Kerri Maher
Actually a 3.5 (7/3/2018)
While I enjoyed reading the story of Kick Kennedy and her whirlwind times and romance, I wish the author would have given us a little more depth and history. I have read a lot of Kennedy history but had not really seen much about Kick. It was good to hear her story.
by Christina Dalcher
Vox - WOW! (6/3/2018)
With shades of Margaret Atwood's Handmaid's tale lingering around the verbiage, Vox is an easier read than Atwood's tome. But many of the same themes are threaded throughout this book. With our current administration and Congress attempting to take away women's rights on a regular basis, this story is almost too close to being truth and it is frightening. All females are limited to 100 words a day and if they surpass this restriction they are jolted with an electronic charge. Even little babies are given these horrible torture bracelets. As we see Jean face these difficult constraints while trying to raise her family with her husband Patrick, it is hard to imagine how I would deal with a similar situation. Very pertinent to our country. May we all work to defeat such horrific injustices.
Only Child
by Rhiannon Navin
Only Child (1/24/2018)
Only Child is the story of an all-too-common event - a school shooting - as told from the perspective of a six-year-old student. Zach brings us through the moment that the shooter enters the school on through the mixture of emotions that a young child goes through when suffering such a tragedy. He tells us his struggles as well as those of the adults around him. His perceptions are keen, difficult but necessary to read. It makes me more aware that I need to be more cautious with my words around the very young. Gun violence has become the norm in our society. Reading this makes me more determined to continue working to stop the gun culture we have here in the US.
Other People's Houses
by Abbi Waxman
Other People's Houses (12/21/2017)
I loved this book. Right book at the right time. One couple's marital issues affect the whole neighborhood in one way or another. This is a story of friendship, marriage, and community. The writing reminded me of Liane Moriarty. We all know people who resemble the characters in this book. I will definitely be looking into other books by Abbi Waxman.
Next Year in Havana
by Chanel Cleeton
Next Year in Havana (10/29/2017)
Absolutely loved this book. Chanel Cleeton helps us experience the rich heritage of Elisa Perez and her family. Elisa's granddaughter, Marisol Ferrera, discovers family secrets on her trip to Cuba to scatter her grandmother's ashes. Her journey is 'always a double edged sword, Keeping her close to me, but it also makes me feel her presence more acutely.' As Marisol finds out more about her family's history, she also finds her family's homeland draws her in despite the dangerous regime that is still in place. The difficult past continues to affect those who were born in the country as well as their descendants. 'What does it say about a place that people will risk certain death to leave it?' Marisol posits. But Cubans 'exist in a constant state of hope.' Ms. Cleeton's language is full of grace and beauty. Although there are parallel love stories, this is definitely not a 'romance novel' and the cover is a bit deceiving. It is a great historical tome that gives us a glimpse into loyalty and betrayal both. Beautifully written.
Happiness: The Crooked Little Road to Semi-Ever After
by Heather Harpham
Happiness (6/28/2017)
I fell in love with this family at the first page. Reading about the love story and struggles of Heather and Brian was enthralling. One line that truly caught me was "Memory is fluid and shape-shifts to our desires." How true.

A story of love, tragedy, loyalty...FAMILY. I enjoyed her prose and insight.
Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk
by Kathleen Rooney
Lillian (10/1/2016)
I love Lillian Boxfish. What a lovely story. At her advanced age, she has lived, loved and overcome so much. I enjoyed learning about her as the story was told. I want to be like her when I'm that age. Hope I can be.
North of Crazy: A Memoir
by Neltje
North of Crazy (7/9/2016)
I started out enjoying this book. A sad story that proves that money and status do not always equal happiness. The book just ended up very slow moving and I had a hard time finishing it. She led an interesting life that is for sure but the writing was a bit sluggish.
The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs
by Matthew Dicks
The Perfect Comeback (6/2/2015)
I loved this book. Read it in a day. How many of us have wounds that still surface on occasion from something that happened in childhood? I'd say the great majority of us. This book talks about just that. For all of you who were not a part of the "in crowd" growing up, you will enjoy reading the trials and tribulations of Caroline Jacobs. At times raucously funny and at others sensitively sad, this book brings you back to your school days. I found it interesting that Matthew Dicks was able to capture the female perspective so well. Great read for the summer.
Make Your Home Among Strangers
by Jennine Capó Crucet
Interesting read (5/18/2015)
A couple of things made Make Your Home Among Strangers an interesting read. First, it hearkens back to the time of Elian Gonzalez and all the drama that unfolded during that incident in our history. But also with the new relationship between the United States and Cuba, it is good to see how lives of Cuban immigrants are different and see how they are similar. The book was a little slow for me but it may have been due to a busy schedule. I'm glad that I read it as it gave me insight into a culture I know little about.
Her Name Is Rose
by Christine Breen
Rose (2/17/2015)
A sweet walk through the lives of the Bowen family. Iris Bowen loses her husband and his dying wish was that she find their adopted daughter Rose's birth mother. He wants to make sure that if something happens to both of them, Rose still has family to count on. Christine Breen's writing truly did remind me of Maeve Binchy's writing including the fact that it is set in Ireland. I enjoyed getting to know the Bowen's and sharing the struggle of trying to find her family. I had just seen the movie Philomena and so much of this also reminded me of that movie. Just a lovely story!
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