February 2021 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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The Interpreter by AJ Sidransky

By: A. J. Sidransky

American GI Kurt Berlin finds himself being recruited by the OSS to serve as a translator in war-torn Europe, during the interrogations of captured Nazis. Through his work, Berlin discovers the Nazi responsible for his own persecution before he fled Europe as a refugee. He finds himself facing a moral dilemma as this man may hold the key to find the girl he left behind.

Sidransky crafts a brilliantly gripping story centered around an agonizing period in history. The story draws from the author’s own family experience and paints a very vivid picture of the antisemitic atmosphere of the time period. The story also examines the politics of the time, favoring expediency and appeasement, which led to one of the greatest tragedies the world has ever known.

True to Sidransky’s other works, the characters are well-developed and the story well researched. The transitions in time, as the story progresses, flow easily. I had a difficult time putting this one down.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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Letters from Planet Corona by Chaya Passow

By Chaya Passow

As Covid-19 spread throughout Israel, author Chaya Passow found herself living in a strange new world. In an effort to process this strange new planet we all seemed to have landed on, Passow wrote a series of letters over the course of months from Purim to the High Holidays.

Passow offers very insightful views of this strange new planet we have been living on for the past ten months. Her writings offer wit and wisdom to these difficult times. I appreciated her use of Jewish thought, including references from the Torah and Talmud as she attempts to make sense of all this. Passow’s writing flows in a conversational style that feels like reading a letter or email from a friend across the social distance. The reader can easily find themself within her thoughts. I found the progression of her experience very relatable.

A great read as we process and look forward to returning to Earth in the coming months.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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The Foreign Girls by Sergio Olguin

By: Sergio Olguin

Veronica Rosenthal, a young journalist, decides to get away from it all, touring scenic northern Argentina. While relaxing off the beaten path, she encounters two foreign tourists. One girl from Italy, the other from Scandinavia. The trio become fast friends, deciding to travel together, spending time at the country house of Veronica’s cousin. But when Victoria’s travel companions become targets of the locals, she becomes determined to uncover the truth of their fate.

Olguin creates a wonderful, complex mystery while exploring political and social issues of the region. Veronica is a brilliantly complex character whose tenacity keeps the reader engaged from beginning to end. The story is well-paced. The vivid descriptions of the setting places the reader right at the center of northern Argentina. The translation was well-edited and flowed easily.

The English translation of The Foreign Girls is currently available for pre-order ahead of it’s scheduled release on March 23rd, 2021. I would like to thank Meryl Zegarek Public Relations Inc for the advanced copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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Private Good Luck by Sherwin Gluck

By: Sherwin Gluck

After two years of navigating red tape, four siblings found their way out of Hungary and into the United States in 1940. Shortly after arriving to freedom, the youngest brother finds himself in the army, fighting to defend his American dream.

This is a heartfelt and emotional story of the Jewish experience of escaping Europe and finding a new beginning in the United States. The story is told in wonderful detail supported by a large number of inserts including documents and photos, which helped bring the story to life. I especially enjoyed the symbolism of the Statue of Liberty and what it represented. This is a beautifully written memoir that will keep you engaged from beginning to end.

Rating: 5 out of 5.
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Be Wild Be Free by Amber Fossey

By: Amber Fossey

So there’s a sloth, a bear, a koala, and a blob fish all woven with lovely, encouraging, and uplifting words for when life gets too, you know, “lifey”.

This heartwarming picture book for grownups is perfect for a cozy snuggle up with a hot beverage when you just need a break from the world. Read from beginning to end or just find a page that speaks to you in the moment and reflect. You’re going to want two copies of this one. One for yourself and one to share with a friend.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

River Queens: Saucy boat, stout mates, spotted dog, America by Alexander Watson

By Alexander Watson

River Queens follows the story of two unlikely boat owners who purchase and restore a wooden yacht. They then embark on a journey, along with their dog, exploring the American heartland, traveling by river from Texas to Ohio. The story details their adventures of life on the river.

Watson does a remarkable job of capturing the human narrative of his and Dale’s experience throughout this story. The writing places you right in the culture they encounter as they make their way from one outpost to the next. The story creates a vivid and colorful tapestry of life, not only on the water, but at the water’s edge.

Watson draws the reader into a wide range of emotions through his story. Be prepared to laugh and to cry in this heartwarming journey. I would like to thank the author for gifting me a free copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Because It’s Israel: An Aliyah Odyssey by Arthur Miller

By Arthur Miller

After thirty-five years of making annual trips to Eretz Israel, Arthur and his wife Ronnie, finally realize their life-long dream of making aliyah. Because It’s Israel is Miller’s first-hand account of their experience of adjusting to life in their new home. From purchasing real estate and a car to banking, to the post office, health care, and beyond.

Miller’s story gives a very practical account to the process of making aliyah. He draws interesting contrasts to life in the United States as it compares to life in Israel. Many of his stories are delightfully humorous while not ignoring the downsides to being half way around the world from loved ones left back in the US. Anyone who has made aliyah will likely relate well to Miller’s experiences.

This book should be on the reading list of anyone considering making aliyah as part of their exploration of the process. It is an enjoyable and quick read. I would like to thank Stuart Schnee PR for the free copy in exchange for my honest review.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Adele and Tom: The Portrait of a Marriage by Chella Courington

By Chella Courington

Adele and Tom: The Portrait of a Marriage is a work of short fiction, exploring the nuances between two very different writers. Tom is an economist, orderly and exacting. Adele is a creative-type, struggling in her own way.

Courington’s lyrical and poetic writing style had be engrosed from the first page. This novella captures a great deal of emotion in only a few short pages. The beautiful prose are perfect for a quiet afternoon read. I recommend retreating with this book and a good cup of tea for an afternoon. You will not be disappointed.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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