March 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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At the End of the World, Turn Left by Zhanna Slor

By: Zhanna Slor

Masha and Anastasia are sisters who immigrated to the United States from the former USSR as children, in the 80s. The two spent their adolescents in the gritty counter-culture neighborhood, Riverwest, of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In her early twenties, Masha makes a journey of self-discovery, immigrating to Israel but returns to Milwaukee, at the insistence of her father, when her sister, now 19, cuts off communication with her family.

This is Slor’s debut novel and I’m already excited to read more from her. The writing is raw and emotional, exploring a number of thought-provoking themes. Masha and Anastasia come of age in a different world from that of their parents and grandparents. The generational divide is well-explored throughout the story. Both sisters are intriguing and complex in their own way. Masha’s exploration of her Jewish identify creates an inner conflict for her as it takes her away from her family.

Slor does a masterful job of maintaining suspenseful tension as the story progresses with Masha hunting for her sister, while facing her own past. This one is a must read. The book is currently available for pre-order ahead of it’s release on April 20th, 2021. I’d like to thank the author for the advanced copy in exchange for my honest review.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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Find Home: In the Footsteps of the Jewish Fusgyers by Jill Culiner

By Jill Culiner

An 1866 change to the constitution of Romania eliminated the right to citizenship for all non-Christians, leaving Romanian Jews with limited rights. On-going anti-semitism across Europe eventually made it necessary for Jews to immigrate away from Europe. By the early 1900s, a group of Romanian Jews, known by the Yiddish name of Fusgeyers, which means “wayfairer” organized themselves into groups in order to immigrate first to western Europe and, eventually the United States and Canada. Fusgeyers were generally very poor but, by organizing, they were able to pool resources in order to afford immigrating.

Jill Culiner’s book retraces the Fusgeyers’ journey, exploring European culture, and the life lived by this lesser-known group of Jews.

Culiner’s work is intriguing as she explores the past and present of Jewish life in Europe. The author’s prose brings this story to life as she retraces the steps of a group of people who include her own ancestors. This is a group who were faced with incredible odds in seeking a more prosperous life in a more tolerant place. The writing is incredibly poignant and does the important work of shedding light on potentially forgotten history within the Jewish community of Eastern Europe.

This is a fascinating read for anyone interested in genealogy and history. I’d like to thank the author for the free copy of the book I received in exchange for my honest review.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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I Wish My Father by Lesléa Newman

By: Lesléa Newman

This poetry collection explores the father-daughter relationship based on the author’s relationship with her own father. The collection is progressive in time as her father ages and reaches end of life.

Newman’s writing is emotional and raw as she wrestles with issues so many face as parents age. Coping with difficult issues such as knowing when it’s time to take the keys away. Her writing is powerful and reflective. I appreciated her use of humor to brighten the mood at times. The collection is a follow up to her earlier work, I Carry My Mother.

This work will resonate with a wide audience. I look forward to reading more by this author. I would also like to thank the author for a free copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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King Genghis I by Jonathan Yalon

By: Jonathan Yolan

Set in a fictional kingdom, in Eurasia, King Genghis I is a satirical rom-com with a political twist. Turan was born in this kingdom but raised in New York. The kingdom is led by a monarch who is more like a modern-day dictator. Turan is persuaded to return home through an invitation to an audience with the king. He is excited by the opportunity until he learns, he can’t leave.

This story is a bit of a slow burn until it reaches a suspenseful ending which quickly runs to the conclusion. The writing style is fluid and descriptive. The political humor is timely and relatable. This was an enjoyable, relatively lighthearted satire which provides a welcome bit of escape.

This is an enjoyable read.

Rating: 5 out of 5.
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Mannahatta: A Sequel by Sherry V. Ostroff

By: Sherry V. Ostroff

A sequel to Caledonia, we rejoin Hanna Duncan three years after the original book, pursuing her doctorate in archeology. Her studies take her to Central America where she finds herself in danger at the hands of a gang. Meanwhile, her ancestor, Anna’s story continues in the new world. She encounters danger of her own at the hands of a cook from the ship, fixated on revenge.

I have been looking forward to this book for some time now. Ostroff, once again, brilliantly weaves past and present to create wonderful parallels between the two heroines of her story. The book is thoroughly researched and kept me engrossed from beginning to end. I found the references to the Jewish experience, post the Spanish Inquisition, while difficult to read, very interesting.

Ostroff has crafted a perfect sequel in Mannahatta. You won’t be able to put this one down. I would like to thank the author for an advanced copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Flip Side of Sad by Amber Ashley

By Ashley Amber

James Letta is a breakout star in the music industry. Despite amazing success as a vocalist, behind the scenes, James is sad. While on a tour, promoting his latest album, James experiences a particularly rough day. That is until he is visited by a ghost who takes him on a tour of his own album. Her goal is to show him the deeper meaning behind the lyrics.

This is Ashley Amber’s debut novellette and I’m excited to read more from her. Framed in a similar style to A Christmas Carole, the story trope is immediately familiar. James is a well-developed character, which is challenging to do in short-fiction but Amber does it artfully. This novellette is cleverly crafted and left me eager to read more.

I look forward to more work by this author. I would also like to thank her for the advanced reader copy in exchange for my honest review.

Rating: 5 out of 5.
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The Hotel on St. James Place: Growing up in Atlantic City between the Boardwalk and the Holocaust by Molly Golubcow

By Molly Golubcow

Molly Golubcow’s memoir focuses on growing up in Atlanta City in the early 1970s between it’s early hay day and the modern day casino boom. Her parents, Holocaust survivors who grew up in a Polish shtetl, become the proprietors of the Seacrest, near the boardwalk, which was home to a colorful cast of residents.

Golubcow’s book consists of seventeen unique stories of life in the hotel and the interesting characters who called it home. The stories are well-crafted and relatable. While this is a non-fiction work, the stories contained in this book would make for an excellent TV series, or possibly a film. I thoroughly enjoyed the very engaging writing.

The book also gives a sweet depiction of the author’s parents, Harry and Sonia, and her beautiful memories of them. I highly recommend this book.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Trojan Horse by S. Lee Manning

By S. Lee Manning

Operative Koyla Petrov is tracking Mihai Cuza, a decedent of Vlad the Impaler. Cuza is suspected of plotting meltdowns at nuclear power plants around the world. But whenever Petrov closes in on his target, he loses a member of his team. Petrov’s agency decides to deploy a ‘trojan horse’, or a computer virus, to help with their mission to stop Cuza. But the plot puts Petrov in a dangerous situation where he must decide between his own life and putting a stop to Cuza.

Manning does an outstanding job of grabbing the reader in the first five pages and keeping them guessing until the very end. The book is fast-paced and action packed. The characters are well-developed and easy to empathize with. Manning keeps the tension high throughout the story.

I enjoyed the double meaning in the title. First, the trojan horse refers to a common form of a computer virus, introduced into a system through the download of a seemingly friendly file. Second is an allusion to the planting of a spy in the enemy camp.

This is one that is hard to put down.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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December 2020 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 […]

January 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 […]

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 […]



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