Book Reviews by Patricia Brooks
SWIM WITH THE SHARKS
Patricia L. Brooks, Book Reviewer May, 2019
Henry Zguda’s life comes to light in this compelling book by Katrina Shawver, a former journalist, now biographer. Zguda’s years passing through the horrible concentration camps of the Hitler Regime before and during World War II are chronicled in this superior book that covers a significant part of world history. Shawver writes about Henry’s great resolve as he maneuver’s his way through the system put in place by the Germans. He learns to find his way in varying jobs and by befriending the right people that make him important enough to be kept alive for their use.
Shawver has done extensive research on this era, including travel to the camps. This writing is a great service to all those wanting to know more about the atrocities of the holocaust and the Nazi era, and what the Jews and other captives experienced from one who survived it first-hand. In their many … (read more…)BETTER THAN ME
Patricia L. Brooks, Reviewer
May 5, 2019
Veronica was considerably more than simply a Mexican immigrant. She was, to be sure, a crackerjack youngest daughter of her self-sacrificing mother and wise grandmother. She was a fierce leader as a young woman fighting against her naysayers both in Mexico and later after crossing to the United States.
A girl in search of herself leaves her childhood village, a close-knit agricultural community, for a nearby US ‘border town’ where she moves between her high school 30 miles away and Lukeville, the place she calls home with her mother.
Her complicated status, though sometimes over looked, was well understood by an occasional mentor or teacher. Veronica resurrected her saga of a remarkable young woman … (read more…)
The Jews You May Not Know
Herman Melville observed ‘to write a mighty book you must choose a mighty theme’ and that is what we have with Marcia Fine’s Hidden Ones (L ’Image Press, 2017).
In the world of historical fiction, Marcia Fine is a multi-award-winning author of inspiring first-rate commentary on Jewish history. She has seven novels to her name, but her latest book Hidden Ones shows the reader she is at the top of her game.
She has combined history, fiction, romance and intrigue with the contagious enthusiasm of a researcher who has discovered gold, and in my opinion, she has done just that with … (read more…)
In her biographical debut, Once Upon a Time There was a Lost, Gay Little Boy, Jo Gabriel warns us that this writer is vulnerable, open to attack, and easily smeared repeatedly. She has written this story from everywhere, but maybe in your world, nowhere. The story begins with a chaotic childhood, followed by an unhappy home-life with husbands she believes taught her hard lessons. Eventually escaping to a new country, Gabriel’s captivating biography confirms she’s far more invincible, not a heroine or a hero, but a sympathetic figure.
Jo was born into a bi-racial family in Europe to an American white man, who stayed there after military duty, and a Spanish woman born in Spain. She demonstrates early her misfit position in that family by not following the footsteps of her taller and prettier sister. She overcomes a horrific childhood of abuse at both the hands of her father and her mother as neither … (read more…)AN UNCONVENTIONAL LOOK AT GRIEF
In their non-fiction book, Living Life after Losing One (Cedar Fork), Oregon mother of seven, Alice Rampton, and her friend Nikki King, mother of five, joined forces to take on the daunting task of looking at their grief in an unconventional approach.
Contrary to a common belief that grieving is something you do and get through; these women show us great strength. Grief, as a process for the rest of your life, is what we see in their writing; it becomes more bearable, and your emotions are not as intense.
Grief occurs in all lives, and in many ways. Rampton and King’s book focuses on the grief of one child lost to cancer and another one to a car accident, as well as a myriad of other possibilities with additional interviews. They believe that grief does not have to destroy a family or a relationship, but that trauma can give new life and new meaning to families in different ways.
Just as a broken … (read more…)
A Change of Habit Patty Kogutek, author www.pattykogutek.com
Book Reviewer: Patricia L. Brooks www.plbrooks.com
Author Patty Kogutek is torn between her life in marriage to God, and being away from her family. She’s lonely and often questions her decision. At times the story is funny, other times it skates close to stereotypical, but it is never dry or boring. Even while allowed to teach young children at a school near the convent, Sister Mary Kateri finds a lack of intimacy in her life. She seeks God, the church and others in the convent again and again for answers. Patty shows us well the struggles and frustrations of all she’s asked to endure and accept, as if a caged dove. We walk with her in those dark moments of yearning for … (read more…)BOOK REVIEW I Look Like Me
Author: Paula Dieck www.ILookLikeMe.com
Book Reviewer: Patricia L. Brooks, Author and Publishing Consultant
I Look Like Me is the story of an idealistic childhood in the Midwest. A loving family. A father and his little girl. It is also about a lot of blonde haired, blue eyed cousins who do not look like the perfectionist who knows she is adopted and loved by her family.
Her memories are sensory as she recalls the intoxicating high of having good grades against the low struggle to find her identity while being reminded she’s different. She’s grateful to … (read more…)
In her novel, Words Falling like Water, Sonya Vaughn catalogs the commonplace
transactions made between a husband and wife: marriage vows, raising a child, paying a mortgage, advancing careers and talking out problems. Her protagonist
Lily addresses such marital problems as the effects of job stress and loss on a
relationship, divorce, bankruptcy, grief, loneliness and heartbreak. These are the center of Sonya’s absorbing novel based on true events.
As Lily’s career in the auto industry moves along and her failing marriage slows, she is often the one giving life to others: her husband who is … (read more…)
At first glance there seems to be a simple connection between the suggestive yet simple title of Susan Pohlman’s memoir Halfway to Each Other and the breathlessly gorgeous visions we ave
of Italy, but that would be wrong. The story is so much more.
How a year in Italy brought our family home is enticing and alluring as the sub-title. The photo
of a weathered red door gracing the cover easily brings us through the entry of
this European lifestyle.
Within the pages of this memoir Pohlman is a glorious romantic yet a sensible realist about her marital situation and the risks of leaving her … (read more…)
Marcia Fine likes to show-off her charming wit and skill at satire in her books about Scottsdale, but her narrative fiction based on her grandmother’s immigration to the United States prior to WWII is in my opinion her life’s work.
Such is this author celebrated for her award winning novel Paper Children: an
immigrant’s legacy claiming the Best Books Finalist Award, USA Book News; the Foreword Finalist Book of the Year award and the Eric Hoffer Independent Publishing competition finalist status.
The book is about a young aristocratic Jewish woman growing up in Poland in the early 20th century in a sheltered and refined environment.
She lives within the walls of Jewish aristocrats in Warsaw oblivious to
the ominous changes going on in Warsaw with the beginnings of the Nazi … (read more…)