November Book Review Wrap Up

So many books, so little time! I am an avid reader and love to share recommendations with fellow readers. My choice in books tend to vary by my mood but some of my favorites are mystery, suspense, thriller, and humor. Get my reviews direct to your inbox every Wednesday and check back here for monthly features.

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Be a Duck!: 8 Lessons from our Feathered Friends

By: Wendy Jarvis

I’m starting off Non-Fiction November with a review of Be A Duck by Wendy Jarvis. This is a self-help book that challenges the reader to evaluate their empathy, self-awareness, and emotional intelligence through the lens of a duck.

I can honestly say, I had not considered modeling my behavior after a duck. This book brings forward some really interesting characteristics of ducks that can easily be applied in everyday life. Such as handling criticism and conflict. While a relatively short read, I recommend taking your time with each chapter, spending some time reflecting on how you could apply the principle to something specific in your life. It’s a worthwhile exercise and one I enjoyed.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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Not Cool: Europe by Train in a Heatwave

By Jules Brown

For my second Non-Fiction November selection, I joined Jules Brown on a 9 country in 9 days train trip across Europe…in the middle of a heatwave. This adventure travels through Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Bratislava, Ljubljana, Zagreb, Liechtenstein, Zürich, and Milan.

This is the second work by Jules Brown I’ve read and it delivered in every way. Brown has a wonderful way of interjecting humor into his tales, which I thoroughly enjoy. I tend not to read travel books because they tell a very edited version of the trip, making it sound unreasonably perfect. That is not the case with Brown’s books. Especially not this one! The reader gets the real story. And told in a way that makes the reader feel as though they are enjoying a pint with a good friend, hearing him tell a hilarious story about his summer vacation.

If you’re missing travel as much as I am in the current Covid reality, I highly recommend enjoying this escape.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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Hip Set

By: Michael Fertik

Oscar Orleans is a refugee, living in Israel, serving as a liaison to fellow African refugees, living in a slum of Tel Aviv. Orleans is called in by his friend, Inspector Kobi Sambinsky, of the Asylum unit with the Israeli police, to assist when a young man, from South Sudan, is found murdered in a bombed-out, waterfront building and no one is able to identify him. The case takes Orleans and Sambinsky into a mystery dating back to King Solomon’s time.

Fertik creates a wonderful ensemble cast of characters this is a fast-paced crime thriller. The relationship between Orleans and Sambinsky is well-developed and evolves very naturally over the course of the story. I enjoyed Angelika Cone’s character. Her technical expertise and analytical skills helped round out the Orleans and Sambinsky duo. The interweaving of modern-day with ancient legend added an interesting layer.

The dialogue was well-done and takes into consideration cultural influences from where various characters learned English. Making it true to their individual backgrounds and more unique.

This story held my attention to the point that I read it in one sitting. A must-read if you enjoy a crime thriller set in an exotic location.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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Dream Dancer

By: S. J. Schwaidelson

Leah Fine is an Anthropology student from Minnesota, recording the rituals of an ancient civilization in Peru. A year studying their culture and rites carries a deeper meaning for Leah and, on returning home to Minnesota, to continue her studies, she finds she’s left something of herself behind. Tan, a member of the tribe, yearns for something more in his life and, with the help of his friend, Dr. Morales, makes his way to study in Minnesota, pursuing his own dreams. But the tribe finds itself under threat from local drug cartels placing Leah in the position to effect change.

Schwaidelson packs a lot into this story. It really has something for everyone: a love story, mystery, and action. The language is wonderfully descriptive, creating vivid imagery in every scene of the book. The characters are well-developed and I found it easy to connect with them. My biggest takeaway was the important message about exploitation of indigenous peoples, as well as natural resources.

The story is unique with a uniquely Jewish voice.

Rating: 5 out of 5.
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