Sunday, June 13, 2021

THE PASSENGER (2021 / first published in 1939)

The PassengerThe Passenger by Ulrich Alexander Boschwitz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Do you think you could imagine what it was like to live in 1938 Germany? Well unless you lived it, you probably can't. Reading "The Passenger" is like living the nightmare of the Kristallnacht pograms that took place in Germany and Austria between November 7 and 13, 1938. Apprehension slowly turns to absolute fear as German Jew Otto Silbermann, a wealthy Berlin businessman, twists and turns trying to escape the web created by the Nazis by riding trains, but there is nowhere to go and no one is safe. Realizing this happened to real people and not that long ago, it seems unbelievable, but as the reader goes on Otto's journey, it becomes clear it was also unbelievable to him.

It has been written that "this is likely the first literary account of these atrocities". Originally published in English in the United States in 1939 the book didn't attract much attention and then went out of print. It didn't help that the young author died in 1942. Recently re-discovered and edited by Philip Boehm, the book is getting the exposure it demands. The history of the book and the tragic life of the author is included. Translation from the German is by Philip Boehm.

Thanks to Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt and Co. and NetGalley for the ARC; opinions are mine.
#ThePassenger #NetGalley

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Sunday, May 23, 2021


Good Company

Good Company by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The story sounds familiar enough, encompassing everyday lives of the sort we all live. Mostly told by Flora, a voice actor; Margot, a television actress, and Julian, the founder of a theater group called Good Company, we learn of friendships, infidelity, betrayal, and the difficulty of sending a child off into the world.

With a backdrop of stage and screen productions, the plot becomes far more interesting. Because the story is book ended by two photographs, the information seems to be revealed in pixels gathered to create a picture of the past twenty years. You have to hope these good but flawed people will have the happy ending they deserve.

"Good Company" was a happy read for me. The writing made me immediately comfortable. I enjoyed the dialogue and sense of humor the author infused.

Read the book or better yet, listen to Marin Ireland read the audio book, as I did. When it ends you will miss her voice telling you about the lives of these interesting people. Adept at characterizations and different voices, she making it look easy.

Highly Recommended!

A copy of was provided to me by HarperAudio /Net Galley for an honest review.

Publisher: HarperAudio (April 26, 2021)
Unabridged Audiobook:  8 Hours, 59 Minutes, 4 Seconds 
Narrator: Marin Ireland

Friday, May 21, 2021


Genealogy Basics In 30 Minutes: The quick guide to creating a family tree, building connections with relatives, and discovering the stories of your ancestorsGenealogy Basics In 30 Minutes: The quick guide to creating a family tree, building connections with relatives, and discovering the stories of your ancestors by Shannon Combs-Bennett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After fifty years of genealogical research, I was not expecting it, but Shannon Combs-Bennett's "Genealogy Basics in 30 Minutes" surprised me with new ideas! This is a concise, up-to-date guideline for getting started in genealogy while avoiding the most common mistakes and pitfalls. Information is shared in a well-organized, conversational style infused with the author's enthusiasm for family history!

Combs-Bennett's explanations are brief and understandable whether she's discussing digital issues, DNA, or record keeping. A helpful appendix and extensive index are included. (Check out her list of what you should have in your portable genealogy research kit for interviewing relatives.) Stressing the importance of record keeping and research logs, as well as ways to preserve records of all kinds, this is a book you'll want close at hand to reference as you grow your family tree. Highly recommended.

Thanks to the author, I30 Media Corporation and NetGalley for a digital copy; opinions are my own.
Publication Date was January 5, 2021 #GenealogyBasicsIn30Minutes #NetGalley

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Light PerpetualLight Perpetual by Francis Spufford
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

As a reader who loves stories of alternative lives, the plot immediately caught my attention. A group of shoppers at a Woolworth's in London on November 25, 1944, are suddenly incinerated including five children. Who might they have been? What lives might they have lived?

FIRST SENTENCE "The light is grey and sullen; a smoulder, a flare choking on the soot of its own burning, and leaking only a little of its power into the visible spectrum."

An extraordinary prologue describing the coming explosion in slow motion is unforgettable. Then time returns to normal and the destruction and death is revealed. From there the author constructs new lives for the children by showing the reader snapshots from the lives Alec, Vern, Ben, and sisters Val and Jo might have lived over a period of years as the world changed. Although the characters are the author's creation, the event actually took place and five children were among those who died which makes the stories all the more poignant. The reader is constantly reminded that none of these lives were lived.

Thanks to Francis Spufford, Scribner and NetGalley for a digital copy; opinions are my own.
Publication Date was May 18, 2021 #LightPerpetual #NetGalley

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Thursday, May 13, 2021


Deadly Ever After (Lighthouse Library Mystery, #8)

Deadly Ever After by Eva Gates
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

FIRST LINE: "Is there anything more perfect than a day at the beach?" 

THE STORY: How could anything go wrong with an opening line like that? Plenty as it turns out. Librarian Lucy Richardson is finally getting engaged to Conner McNeil, dentist and mayor of a small community on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Family and friends are gathering on the beach to celebrate when Richard Eric Lewiston the Third and his overbearing mother crash the party for the sole purpose of convincing Lucy to marry 'Ricky' instead!

From there it isn't long until a body appears and the happenings in this quiet little town again force Lucy into the role of amateur detective (for the 8th time in the series). The suspects pile on and with twists, turns, and a little humor, eventually good triumphs over evil.

WHAT I THOUGHT: I always say I'm not a cozy mystery reader but this is my second by this author in the past year! I love the idea that Lucy's library and home is in a lighthouse. Eva Gates knows what her readers want and gives it to us in a well-written way that doesn't talk down to readers but includes us in the fun. Along the way she works in the names of books and bits of information the reader will recognize. It's not a unique approach but it's well-done here. The book club is reading "The Hound of the Baskervilles", by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and there are shout-outs to fellow cozy writers Ellen Bryon and Essie Lang as well. P.S. In this 8th entry in the series, there is still Charles Dickens (the cat) and now a dog (Fluffy) just to cause added confusion!

BOTTOM LINE: There is nothing more delightful than an enjoyable cozy series. I'm guessing that starting at the beginning with #1 and getting to know the characters would be even more fun. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for cozy mystery readers!

DISCLAIMER: A copy of "Deadly Ever After" was provided to me by Crooked Lane Books/Net Galley for an honest review.

Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books (May 11, 2021)
ISBN-10: 1643855883
ISBN-13: 978-1643855882

THE AUTHOR: Eva Gates is also known as Canadian crime writer Vicki Delany, "one of Canada's most prolific and varied crime writers." You might want to check out some of her other series: Sherlock Holmes Bookshop; Year Round Christmas Mysteries; Klondike Gold Rush; and novels of Gothic suspense. "Having taken early retirement from her job as a systems analyst, Vicki enjoys the rural life in Prince Edward County, Ontario." 

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Thursday, May 6, 2021


Digital Body Language: How to Build Trust and Connection, No Matter the Distance

Digital Body Language: How to Build Trust and Connection, No Matter the Distance by Erica Dhawan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Body language has been actively studied since the 1960's with the general public becoming more aware of its existence with the book "Body Language" published in 1978. My undergraduate degree was in Communications and I have a pretty good understanding of non-verbal cues so my first reaction to "Digital Body Language" was all this information is intuitive. I already know and do these things. But as I continued to read, I realized there were new concepts and ideas that I could use. There were helpful ways to proceed.

Author Erica Dhawan has provided a complete roadmap for teams to understand the new signals and cues through her guidelines and anecdotal stories. She explains what digital body language is, discusses the four laws that will make a team more successful, and follows up with a discussion bringing awareness to digital communication differences in gender, generations, and culture. The book includes an extensive list of footnotes and the Appendix includes a downloadable link to The Digital Language Guidebook and other useful materials.

Here are some of my personal takeaways:

Reading carefully is the new listening.
Writing clearly is the new empathy.
A phone or video call is worth a thousand emails.
If you follow up twice with no response, switch to a different medium.
The return and importance of the exclamation point.
Older generations almost always end up adopting the vocabulary of younger generations (emojis).
I also discovered I'm a 'digital native' rather than a 'digital adapter'.

Highly recommended and appropriate for strengthening teams in any organization as well as those of us with questions about how to sign our e-mails! 

Thanks to the author, St. Martin's Press, and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for my honest review.

Publisher : St. Martin's Press (May 11, 2021)
Hardcover :
288 pages

ISBN-10 :

ISBN-13 :

Erica Dhawan is the Founder & CEO of Cotential, a global organization that helps companies, leaders, and managers leverage 21st-century collaboration skills and behaviors to improve game-changing performance. In 2020, she was named by Global Gurus as one of the Top 30 Management Thinkers around the world.

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Sunday, May 2, 2021


The Newcomer

The Newcomer by Mary Kay Andrews
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"The Newcomer" has all the elements that make for a perfect beach read; mystery, romance, loveable characters (including a small child), missing treasure, warm weather, and beaches! Imagine a Hallmark mystery movie.

Tanya has told her sister Letty that if anything happens to her, she should take her daughter Maya and run. When Tanya is killed, Letty and Maya find temporary safety in an old family run resort in Florida surrounded by 'snow birds', who provide the story's humor.

The reader can feel pretty safe with Mary Kay Andrews. Things never get too scary or violent or sexy while being compelling enough to keep the reader turning pages.

Mary Kay Andrews maintains her crown as "Queen of the Beach Reads"!

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