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Book Reviews
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The Takeaway Men
by Meryl Ain

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Aron and Edyta Lubinski have survived the horrors of Poland during World War II. Edyta risked her life to relocate children and then hid Aron away in her attic. After the War, Aron and Edyta don't feel comfortable in Poland and find their way to a Displaced Persons Camp where Edyta converts to Judaism and gives birth to twin girls, Bronka and Johanna. Aron and Edyta find a way to the United States where they live with Aron's relatives, Izzy and Faye. Once in America Aron delves deeper into his religion and attempts to forget about the horrors of his past, never talking about his story. Dyta strives to be the best Jewish wife she can be while Johanna and Bronka find their place in American culture. The girls grow up knowing they are Jewish, but without any knowledge of their parent's past. As Communism stretches into their neighborhood, the family witnesses a Jewish neighbor being arrested for ties to Communism and Aron is immediately reminded of his time in Poland. His fear transfers to his daughter Bronka who yearns for the full story while Johanna takes a more carefree approach to life. When the truth of their parent's past comes through, Bronka and Johanna are shocked while Aron and Edyta must finally come forth with the secrets of their family. The Takeaway Men is an insightful and heartfelt look into the experiences of Jewish immigrants after World War II. Aron and Dyta's experience was unique, although no less harrowing than many of their Jewish neighbors in New York. It was interesting to see the different approaches to dealing with the trauma that each family experienced during the War from constantly telling everyone they meet their experiences, to trying to enact revenge, and trying to hide their experiences from everyone. The effects of Aron's fear and shame was apparent through Bronka's panic attacks and showed just how lasting trauma can be. It was really thought provoking to see the similarities drawn between the arrests for Communism in America and for being Jewish in Europe. The story was told from the third person point of view in order to incorporate everyone's very different experiences; however, through this lens, I didn't feel like I connected with anyone. At the end, I was happy that the truth had come out, but I did wish that I could see the effects of this on the twins.

Pale Demon Kim Harrison
by Kim Harrison The Hollows Series

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Very enjoyable, a lot of twists and an unexpected ending.

The Black Kids
by Christina Hammonds Reed

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Ashley Bennett has lived a luxurious life in an upper class Los Angeles neighborhood.  However, as the school year winds down and a local man, Rodney King is murdered, Ashley is forced to reevaluate how she views herself and her peers. At first, Ashley the Rodney King murder is barely a blip on Ashley's radar, although after the verdict is delivered and the protests and riots begin, Ashley begins to see a difference in the way she and her family are treated.  She is not just any girl at her high school, she is one of the black kids.  The Black Kids is so on point and perfectly written that I want everyone to read this book immediately.  Honest, poignant, and driven, the writing had me hooked from the beginning; it was eerie how the events of the very first chapter seemed to perfectly echo the current events of the USA.  I liked that Ashley's character was not the typical 'black kid' of the time and had to experience the consequences of the Rodney King murder to realize the truth of how her race effects her daily life.  Through Ashley's eyes I experienced the blatant racism and sexism that was as rampant in 1992 as it is now.  The prose also perfectly captured the wonders of being a teen along with the nostalgia of the early 1990's.  Ashley's journey  had great revelations about racism and the weight of representing her race in a white world, as well as understanding of poverty, friendship and growing up.  The consequences of the Rodney King verdict and the subsequent riots were a turning point in Ashley's view of herself and her life, opening up her eyes and my own to see just how long people of color have been vigilantly fighting against systemic racism in the USA and highlighting the cycle of racism, unjust killing, protest and unrest until we put a bandage on the current issue until we forget about what caused the previous issue.  The Black Kids is a must-read for everyone who wants to better understand the world we live in. This book was received for free in return for an honest review.

One Word Kill
by Mark Lawrence

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I really enjoyed this book. I thought the individual characters were wonderful and the plot was entertaining.

Certain Justice
by John Lescroart

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Great book

The Penguin Book Of Witches
by Gabra Zachman

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It was interesting to learn about the witch trials before during and after the Salem witch trials.

The Archer's Tale
by Bernard Cornwell

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I love a good grail quest, especially if it's written by Bernard Cornwell. He is one of my favorite authors.

Balthazar's Bane
by Kat Ross

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Balthazar, an ageless former necromancer is on a quest to rid the world of the evil necromancers that remain. His latest bounty brings him to Egypt where he quickly dispatches John Mortlake. However, the easy kill comes with strings attached. John Mortlake has debts with the djinn and a daughter who absolutely refuses to pay the debts for a father she equally despised. Balthazar gets waylaid after Mortlakes death by a beautiful woman and ends up on a Nile cruise. Balthazar's wiles get the best of him though, as the woman he is chasing steals the talisman that has kept him alive for over 2000 years. In trying to retrieve his talisman, Balthazar gets tied up in the woman's troubles and finds himself imprisoned by the djinn in a magical desert kingdom and now must retrieve a sword from a demon in order to escape with his life and his talisman. Enchanting, fun and action packed, Balthazar's Bane continues the world of the Gaslamp Gothic series. I really enjoyed getting to know Bathazar and Lucas better. The writing dives into some of Balthazar's lengthy past and his history with Lucas without slowing things down. I was in a love/hate relationship with Zarifa's character based on her changing actions. She was strong, independent and free thinking, mostly one step ahead of the guys. Most of all, I loved being transported to the magical city of Al Miraj and exploring the many inhabitants of the city along with their dwellings and items. The trails that the demon led had me enthralled as Balthazar deftly fought his way through. Thoughtfully weaving in themes of growth, good vs. evil and respect for all living things, Balthazar's Bane entertained from beginning to end and I can't wait to see what these characters get into next.

by Ibtihaj Muhammad

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It was good to read a different kind of athlete biography.

The Invention Of Sophie Carter
by Samantha Hastings

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Identical twins Sophie and Mariah Carter were orphaned directly after their birth and taken in by the Captain and wife of their father's navy ship, the Trenton's. Soon after they were taken in, Mrs. Trenton has a child of her own and Sophie and Mariah are sent away once again to the Ellis' who own a clock shop. Sophie and Mariah must work tirelessly for their keep; however, Sophie learns about clock repair from Mr. Ellis and dreams of being an inventor while Mariah takes care of the Ellis' children. Approaching adulthood, the sister's know they must find a place outside of the Ellis' home. Sophie writes to their one remaining relative, Aunt Sophrinoa Bentley in London hoping that she will take them in. Their Aunt agrees to take in only Sophie and only for one season in order to find Sophie a husband. Sophie and Mariah can't imagine splitting up, so they simply set off to London together planning on both acting the part of Sophie with only one of them appearing at a time. Their plan works and Sophie is able to see the 1851 Queen's Great Exhibition along with Ethan Miller whose watch Sophie fixed up in the park. Meanwhile, Mariah spends most of her day in the house with Aunt Bentley and her ward Charles where she discovers her passion for female authors and painting. Each man believes they are dating the real Sophie Carter as the twins learn they are not as similar as they thought. The Invention of Sophie Carter is a sweet Victorian Romance for Young Adult and New Adult readers. I fell immediately for both Sophie and Mariah's characters as they were unwanted by one family and then another but still found hope, strength and fortitude in one another. I did find their scheme at their Aunt's house far fetched and was amazed that they were able to sustain the charade; it did make for a very fun and suspenseful plot. Sophie and Mariah were very opposite in personality and I loved Sophie's need for knowledge and adventure as well as Mariah's quiet discipline although Sophie's pluck seemed a little out of place for the time period at points. The romances were equally as swoon worthy with both Ethan and Charles being perfect matches for Sophie and Mariah's personalities. I also enjoyed reading about the Great Exhibition and seeing it through Sophie's eyes as well as some Pre-Raphaelite artists through Mariah's training. Most of all, it was interesting to see the twins begin to realize just who they are as people and that they are very different, but can still support each other's passions. Overall, an endearing and engaging Victorian Romance.

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