Book Review: The Word of Abusz Werber by Michel Werber

Title: The Word of Abusz Werber
Author: Michel Werber
Genre: Biographical, Historical Fiction, World War II
Rating: 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The extraordinary life story of Abusz Werber before, during and after the Second World War

Abusz Werber grew up in Poland from which he moved to Belgium. During the Nazi occupation, he was the party leader of “Linke Poale Zion” (Left-wing Workers of Zion), a Zionist-Socialist party in Belgium, and one of the initiators of the Jewish Defense Committee of Belgium. This committee managed to save about 3,000 children and several thousand Jewish adults from the clutches of the Nazis.

A secret newspaper telling the truth!

With his party comrades, Abusz Werber ensured the editing, publication and distribution of 28 issues of a secret (underground) newspaper in Yiddish, “Unzer Wort” (Our Word), which appeared until the Liberation in September 1944 (and even after). In this newspaper, he assiduously denounced the lies of the German occupant, as well as those of the Belgian Association of Jews, who collaborated with them. He called neither to follow their orders nor to respond when summoned to go to Mechelen, a transit camp before deportation.

“The Word of Abusz Werber” gives Werber a place for his words

This book is an attempt to tell Werber’s story and give him and his party members and activists the place they deserve in the chronicles of the fight against Nazism.

The Word of Abusz Werber” is the story of – you guessed it – Abusz Werber, a man who grew up in Poland and then moved to Belgium. During the years of Nazi occupatio, he was the party leader of “Linke Poale Zion”, which was the zionist-socialist party in Belgium. He also worked for the Jewish Defense Committee in Belgium, which manages to save 3000 children from the Nazis.

Abusz also worked on an underground newspaper describing the truth of the situation, and the horrors the Germans were inflicting upon innocent people.

Since I live in Belgium, I felt compelled to read Abusz Werber’s story. I had heard of the transit camp in Mechelen in Belgium, of the traitors among some of the Belgian parties, the collaborators, the horrors that took place, even on Belgian soil, but hearing about it vaguely and reading about it in detail are two different matters.

If you’re Belgian (and even if you’re not) and you want to know more about the Jewish resistance here during World War II, then this book is a great place to start. Abusz Werber was truly a remarkable man, a courageous man, and a righteous man as well.

Book Review: Sleep my Valley by Ruth Netzer

Title: Sleep My Valley
Author: Ruth Netzer
Genre: Historical, Literary Fiction, Biographical
Rating: 4,5 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Ruth is alone and desolate as her world falls apart

A lonely child on an Israeli kibbutz, Ruth watches painfully as her family falls apart. Her mother struggles with haunting memories of her troubled youth; her father succumbs to depression. When she is 15 her parents divorce and leave the kibbutz. Desolation follows Ruth to her new home.

Join Ruth as she struggles with the demons of her family’s secrets

Ruth must get to the bottom of her family’s harrowing story. Her lonely search for understanding becomes filled with poetry, literature, and dreams. Ruth looks deep within herself and creates a personal dialogue with God. She struggles for the strength to grapple with her parents’ demons, lest they become her own.

Courage, strength, spirituality, and healing in this moving family saga

Through haunting narrative and diary entries, join Ruth as she triumphs in her spiritual quest to come to terms with her family’s history. Share in the process of family analysis, as Ruth confronts her parents in their old age, eventually leading to repair and reconciliation.

In Sleep My Valley, Ruth feels extremely lonely as she watches her family fall apart. Her father is depressed, her mother is struggling with the memories of a troubled childhood.

Determined to get to the bottom of her family’s story, Ruth goes on a search for the truth, and on a search for her own inner strength on a spiritual journey to come to terms with her family’s history.

This book is haunting and mesmerizing, and I couldn’t put it down. Ruth’s story is beautiful and at times heartbreaking, but also very powerful. Not exactly the kind of book you should pick up if you just want to enjoy a quick and easy read, but one that has a powerful message that deserves to be shared.

Book Review and Giveaway Black and White

Title: Black and White
Author: Ben Burgess Jr
Genre: Contemporary
Age Group: Adult
Rating: 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

When the prestigious law firm of Wayne, Rothstein, and Lincoln catches two major cases—a rape case where a White NBA star allegedly raped a Black stripper, and a murder case where a Black rapper allegedly killed a gay couple and two policemen—Bill O’Neil and Ben Turner are tasked to handle these racially charged litigations. The cases hit emotional chords with the two lawyers and force them to reckon with their interracial relationships and families. Will the racial tension of their cases destroy them or make them stronger?

“Black and White” won the Literary Titan Book Award.

As a lawyer, I’m always intrigued when I can read books that take place in law firms or deal with the law, and Black and White fits that bill perfectly. Wayne, Rothstein and Lincoln, a prestigious law firm, is tasked to deal with two racially charged litigations in two major cases. The first case involves a white NBA star allegedly raping a black stripped. The second case involves a black ripper allegely killing a gay couple and two policemen.

Bill O’Neil and Ben Turner are two young attorneys tasked to handle these cases, which hit emotional chords with both of them. The cases are nearly impossible to win, and they will also make them question their own morals and integrity, and their relationships with others. They must also overcome their own stereotyping, and the stereotyping done by just about everyone around them, if they want to win these cases.

The story is a gritty, raw, realistic tale of injustice, of racism, of how cruel the world can be even when we believe (or try to believe) the world is fair or we act fairly. The writing is excellent, and the story pulls you in from page on. The tension is extremely high, and you can’t help but reflect yourself in the characters, relate their views to your own and learn some startling truths about yourself and the world around you.

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Book Review: Another’s Child by Einat Danon

Title: Another’s Child
Author: Einat Danon
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Literary Fiction
Rating: 3,5 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Imagine inheriting a child that you don’t even know!

One morning, Yael and Arik Katz are startled by a surprise inheritance: Noa, the ten-year-old daughter of Canadian friends with whom they had made a long-forgotten will-exchange agreement, is delivered to their doorstep with no warning. Why did her parents decide that she should grow up with acquaintances rather than family? How do you raise a girl you do not even know?

Secrets and lies are revealed and everything starts to get complicated

Noa does not find her place in Israel. Yael takes her back to Toronto to look for a more suitable adoptive home. The search reveals answers to questions that have not even been asked about parenthood, marital relations, love, one’s home, and the fragility of life.

Can life ever be the same again?

As Yael delves into Noa’s past to better understand her, she discovers some unflattering things about her own partner and that the connection between her family and Noa is deeper than it had seemed. These shocking revelations leave Yael with a serious dilemma about her own family relationships.

Another’s Child offers an intriguing concept. One morning, Yael and Arik Katz receive a surprise inheritance: the ten-year-old daughter of Canadian friends with whom they’d made a long-forgotten will-exchange agreement arrives on their doorstep, with no warning beforehand. Why did her parents decide it better for her to grow up with distant acquintances than family? How do you raise a girl you don’t know? Can Noa, the girl, make a home for herself in Israel?

When Yael takes Noa back to Toronto to find a more suitable adoptive home for the ten-year-old, it raises important questions about parenthood, love, the fragility of life, and what the meaning is of a place you can call home. As Yael delves deeper into Noa’s past, she discovers secrets that make her question everything she’s ever believed in.

The characters were intriguing, especially the dynamics between Yael and Noa had me interested. The story itself is rather original, although the plot of suddenly having to take care of a child you’ve never seen, reminded me of a comedy movie I’d once seen. But apart from that, I hadn’t seen this plot before, so I quite enjoyed it, as well as the focus on family relationships and dynamics.

The writing didn’t always convince me, though, and I found it a little subpar to the rest of the book, hence why I didn’t rate it 4 stars. But don’t let that stop you, the story is quite enjoyable and the characters are very interesting.

Book Review: Modern Slavery and the Gods of Consumption

Title: Modern Slavery and the Gods of Consumption

Author: Ofer Even

Genre: Literary Fiction, Urban

Age Group: Adult

Rating: 4 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Meet Michael Marks, the man who wants to buy everything

Michael Marks is a successful advertising agent, obsessed with consumerism and climbing the corporate ladder. He takes more pleasure in buying a new car than in his wife’s third pregnancy. In fact, he even appraises his children in terms of profit and loss! Then a series of experiences and disillusionments begin to turn his life upside down…

A roller-coaster of events shakes Michael to the core

When Michael’s client is jailed for embezzlement, Michael learns that the American prison system is a business for profit with the highest ratio of inmates in the world, 1:100! His company advertises meat without FDA approval, leading to a crisis that forces Michael to fire thousands of workers. Then in an argument with his impoverished housekeeper, Jonathan, Michael is unnerved when accused of being an unwitting prisoner in a gilded cage who worships the “God of Consumption”.

The complete transformation of Michael Marks

Michael comes around to Jonathan’s way of thinking and together they write a manual advocating the overthrow of the corporate “sole” and its grip on society. Can Michael free himself and his family of “modern slavery?” Can he change the world without losing all that is dear to him?

In Modern Slavery and the Gods of Consumption, Michael Marks is a successful advertising agent obssessed with consumerism. He takes more pleasure in buying a car than in his wife being pregnant with their third child. He’s so obsessed with money and spending it, he barely has time to appraise his kids or his spouse. And then, a rollercoaster of events happens that open Michael’s eyes to what he truly is: a slave of the consumption society, a slave of money and buying pretty things.

The writing was quite compelling and the subject matter was definitely intriguing. Too often, we’re driven by the need to consume, by capitalism at its worst, and we are truly slaves to the Gods of Consumption, as the title so eloquently states. Michael is an engaging character, especially as he begins to unravel the truth about himself and the world we live in. At first, he comes across as shallow but as he transforms, the reader discovers hidden depths to him.

It’s a moving, thought-provoking title with a clear message that can hopefully serve as an eye-opener to the way consumerism rules our world.

Book Review: A Dog’s Luck by Liora Barash Morgenstern

Title: A Dog’s Luck
Author: Liora Barash Morgenstern
Genre: Psychological, Women’s Fiction, Literary Fiction
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

People, dogs, and what lies between them

Ellie, a young woman writing her philosophy dissertation, becomes disrupted by echoes from the past. She follows the voices replaying in her mind to an introspective examination of her childhood and adolescence within her extended family. This intimate inspection of relationships between family members–and the family’s dogs–leads her to uncover three generations of the family secrets and the focal points of tension in the family’s history.

A story of love, separation and longing

A Dog’s Luck is a unique, moving and thought-provoking work of literary art that deals with existential issues in a heartfelt, high-tempo and dynamic style. It touches on love, separation and longing, in an expressive, multi-layered language that provokes the readers to reflect upon subtle nuances of their own inner worlds.

In A Dog’s Luck, author Liora Barash Morgenstern explores the relationship between family members and the family’s dogs, and how this relates to three generations of family secrets. The main character, Ellie, who is writing her philosophy dissertation, replays her childhood and adolescence in her mind, uncovering these relationships and finding out more about herself and her family in the process.

The book is literary fiction, so the style is quite flowery at times, but it didn’t bother her. It’s quite an introspective book too, an touches upon several existential issues. I enjoyed reading it, and would recommend it to fans of women’s fiction and/or literary fiction.

Book Review: The Fat Man’s Monologue by Aliza Galkin-Smith

Title: The Fat Man’s Monologue
Author: Aliza Galkin-Smith
Genre: Literary Fiction, Family
Age Group: Adult
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

A popular history lecturer realizes at mid-life that he is not accountable to anyone, and decides to pursue his great passions: food, women and human history. Traveling through northern Italy, Wales, Devon and other locations, he learns and writes about food and the colorful stories behind it. In a charming, funny and witty monologue, he touches on his cravings for food and women, with detours into history.

The Fat Man’s Monologue offers a portrait of a fat man who cannot be ignored. It is a book about food and about people who like to eat; a book about unique places and extraordinary recipes; about the paraphernalia of food, people, places and events, about love of life and food, and delightful locations, journeys and recipes. It is a book for lovers of food and life, whether fat or slim, that offers an inspiringly optimistic and humanistic look at life, through the eyes of a charismatic hero-narrator who will stay with you long after the last page.

In The Fat Man’s Monologue, a popular history lecturer realizes at mid-life that he’s not accountable to anyone, and decides to pursue his great passions: food, women and human history.

He travels through Italy, Wales, and lots of other locations, writing about local food and the stories behind it. The book is mostly about food, but in a charming, humorous way, about extraordinary places and people, love of life, food and journeys.

The focus of the book is life, living life to the fullest, and enjoying every moment of it. The book is an unique experience, hilarious, eye-opening, and well, it managed to make me extremely hungry, hah!

Fans of food, life, traveling, will definitely enjoy this book.

Book Review and Giveaway Eidolons

Title: Eidolons
Author: Harrison Fountain
Genre: Literary Fantasy
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

When TK dies in a car accident, the Grim Reaper gives him a second chance at life, but he says it’s more fun being a ghost. As he haunts his small Iowa town, his sleek shell of sarcasm cracks to a terrified lonely inner self. Find out why he’d rather be dead.

One afternoon, TK woke up dead. Rather than returning for a second chance at life, he decided to stay a ghost, and haunt the living in his small Iowa town. There’s a lot more to TK and his life than you can guess at first, and as the story unravels, you find yourself more and more invested in his life.

TK died during a car accident. Then we’re taken back to the days before his accident, and what brought TK to that scene in the first place. TK is a very realistic, compelling character, well-crafted, sense of humor, and for a book heavy on characterization, that’s a plus. As a ghost, he meets other ghosts, each with their own life story and background that make them unique.

The plot was entertaining and different from what I expected, with a lot of twists I didn’t see coming. The supernatural elements were refreshing and original, and I really enjoyed this book – so much that I read it in on sitting.

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Book Review: Of Life, Death, Aliens and Zombies by Dario Cannizzarro

41gutawb6glTitle: Of Life, Death, Aliens and Zombies
Author: Dario Cannizzaro
Genre: Literary Short Story Collection
Age Group: Adult
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

Misnomer on purpose, this amazing debut rocks nine short and amusing stories that talk about life, death (as the title suggests), love, loneliness, art, sex, drugs, culture, religion but also – much less than you would expect – aliens, zombies and much more.

Ordinary characters facing extraordinary situations, dry humor, philosophical musing dressed as whimsical, offhand commentary; those are the key elements for this incredible authorial debut.

The collection comprehends three previously published stories (“The Galway Review”, “Two Thousand Words” and “Chantwood Magazine”); five new unpublished pieces; and for the first time in English, the best-selling story “Impurità”, which was Selected Work in iBooks Italy 2012.

As with any short story collection, Of Life, Death, Aliens and Zombies offers a mix of stories, some excellent, others good. There was not a single story that I thought was bad, though, which speaks volumes for the quality of the collection.

The stories are a mix: they’re about life and death, aliens and zombies (as the title suggests) but they also deal with a lot more, like love, religion, loneliness. The themes are varied and differ in every story. At just over a 100 pages, the collection is a fast read that you can finish in little more than an hour’s time.

One of my favorite stories (it’s hard to pick an exact favorite) was Yet Another Zombie Apocalypse. I love zombie stories, but to see one so completely different from just about every other zombie story out there, was amazing. Another one of my favorites was Terrorism Marketing. It was bizarre, ironic, but also rang sort of true of today’s society. I also enjoyed The Best Place to Plan a Mass Shooting.

The writing is very strong, lyrical, and it’s what carries the stories and lifts them from good to great. I look forward to reading more stories by this author in the future, and I’m very impressed with this collection.

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Book Review: The Solitary Bee by Hannah Holborn

51dyqy1kf3lTitle: The Solitary Bee
Author: Hannah Holborn
Genre: Mystery, Suspens, Literary Fiction
Rating: 4 stars

Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

A family mystery built of lies, betrayal, revenge and murder. An angry young woman coming of age.
Nineteen-year-old Epke Van Toorne’s childhood on her family’s idyllic organic apple orchard was darkened by tragedy that left her alone with a bitter grandmother. When illness forces the sale of the farm, Epke is swept into the alien landscape of the city. Her quest for answers about her family’s past leads to stunning revelations. It also brings Epke the younger brother her grandmother always denied existed.
The boy and his friends expose Epke to two sides of environmental activism. She’s torn between a peaceful guerrilla gardening movement and a militant Earth Liberation Front cell group. As the cell members become increasingly volatile, Epke instigates an action toward the orchards’ new owners who are Frankenfruit researchers. Will she risk everything for one night of retribution—including the lives of her fellow activists? Or will she choose a future with the visionary man she loves?

The Solitary Bee is an intriguing novel about family secrets, an angry young woman looking for answers, revenge and murder. Epke Van Toorne is nineteen years old, and has already gone through more than her share of heartache in her short life. At the start of the book, she lives with her bitter grandmother on the family farm, but soon, illness forces the sale of the farm, and Epke moves to the city, where she searches for answers about her family’s past, and a reunion with a brother her grandmother always denied existed.

It also brings Epke into the world of environmental activism, where she has to choose between a peaceful and militant group, between one night of revenge and a future with a man she’s grown to love.

The author did a phenomenal job creating characters that were likeable yet flawed at the same time, in particular Epke. I really liked her, how the past shaped her and defined her, how she made mistakes, and just generally how she grew as a person throughout the book.

A large part of the book focuses on nature and environmental activism, and I learned a great deal. It’s obvious the author did her research.

Overall, I really enjoyed the story, and the writing was excellent. Another great read by Hannah Holborn, and I already look forward to the next book by this author.