Tug-of-War by Judith Somborac

This touching story plainly told provides a captivating view of wartime Serbia, its tensions, and its effects on ordinary working people.

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Judith Somborac’s Tug-of-War follows the fictional experience of one young woman’s coming-of-age in World War II Serbia. Teenage Miriana sees upheavals to the size and shape of her household, grasps for fortitude, and glimpses hints of love. Her war years are stressful but formative, and the resulting tale is compelling and heartfelt.

…Click here to read the full review.


This review was published on March 3, 2015 by ForeWord Reviews.

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My rating: 6 Christmases.

A Greater Ireland: The Land League and Transatlantic Nationalism in Gilded Age America by Ely M. Janis

Scholarly examinations of a political movement delve into the nature of the Irish American identity.

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A Greater Ireland: The Land League and Transatlantic Nationalism in Gilded Age America, by Ely M. Janis, is a concise, meticulously researched examination of one specific thread in a shared Irish and Irish American history: the Irish National Land League of the 1880s. This organization spanned the globe, uniting citizens of both Ireland and the United States in pursuing Irish land reform and self-rule, and had lasting repercussions for Irish American identity and political involvement.

…Click here to read the full review.


This review was published on February 27, 2015 by ForeWord Reviews.

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My rating: 3 speaking appearances, for tedious readability.

Her Own Vietnam by Lynn Kanter

A woman’s story of wartime PTSD gathers complex characters to shed light on a little-discussed point of view.

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Her Own Vietnam, by Lynn Kanter, is the story of Della Brown, who served as an army nurse in Vietnam but only begins to address her trauma decades later, when an old friend who shared that experience contacts her out of the blue. Kanter portrays Della’s painful chronicle with sensitivity and surrounds her with a family that is imperfect but, for the most part, making an effort. The resulting novel is insightful in telling of the little-known struggles of women “in that green and poisoned country.”

…Click here to read the full review.


This review was published on February 27, 2015 by ForeWord Reviews.

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My rating: 8 flowers.

Death Comes for the Deconstructionist by Daniel Taylor

Weighty subjects and introspection never bog down Taylor’s quirky characters as they rush toward a surprising finish.

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Death Comes for the Deconstructionist, by Daniel Taylor, is a slim, funny, thoughtful novel about mental illness, academia, self-knowledge, and philosophy, with a murder mystery thrown in.

Jon Mote, a failed husband and failed graduate student, lives with his sister on a houseboat in St. Paul, Minnesota. When the widow of a murdered professor calls, asking him to look into the death of his former dissertation director, Mote is reluctant—his usual part-time research work involves, for example, the history of popcorn or insurance rates—but he needs the money. Alongside his incessantly sunny but unwell sister, Judy, Mote will have to revisit his own past, as well as that of the highly accomplished Doctor Pratt, who turns out to have a surprising number of enemies. The voices in Mote’s head grow more insistent as the case stresses his fragile grip on reality. Despite her own handicaps, Judy may have to hold things together.

…Click here to read the full review.


This review was published on February 27, 2015 by ForeWord Reviews.

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My rating: 7 zippers.

The Color of Courage: A Boy at War by Julian Kulski

Kulski’s story heart-wrenchingly follows the arc of a boy becoming a young man in World War II Poland.

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The Color of Courage is the chronological diary of Julian Kulski, who was ten years old when Germany invaded his native Poland in 1939. Transitioning from the Boy Scouts to the Polish Underground Army, through the Warsaw Ghetto and the event of the Warsaw Uprising, Kulski ends up a sixteen-year-old German prisoner of war; but his story doesn’t end there. This gripping personal account brings a deeply moving and unique perspective to World War II Poland.

…Click here to read the full review.


This review was published on November 27, 2014 by ForeWord Reviews.

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My rating: 8 bricks.

Growing Up with Ignorance: Memoirs of a Singaporean Baby Boomer by Ali Lee

Sweetly touching, yet sometimes shocking, this memoir provides a unique view of a child’s daily life in 1950s Singapore.

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Lee Ali’s Growing Up with Ignorance: Memoirs of a Singaporean Baby Boomer is a simply written, powerful tale of a particular kind of childhood and upbringing. Born in Singapore in 1949, she was raised simultaneously in an immensely multicultural city and in great isolation, often staying within her family’s one room. By telling her story, she hopes to improve conditions for later generations. Her straightforward narrative is moving and sympathetic.

…Click here to read the full review.


This review was published on November 20, 2014 by ForeWord Reviews.

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My rating: 5 buses.

The Killdeer: And Other Stories From the Farming Life by Michael Cotter

There is something for everyone in this very special collection of moving stories about the farming life, and the human experience.

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Michael Cotter, born in 1931 on Minnesota land his family had farmed since the 1870s, was scolded from an early age: “Cut out those damn stories and get some work done around here!” As a hardworking livestock farmer, his natural inclination toward storytelling had to be suppressed. He was nearly fifty when he attended a workshop that reactivated his artistic side and began his storytelling career. The Killdeer and Other Stories from the Farming Life compiles his stories, full of simple humor and pathos of his life experiences and storytelling prowess.

…Click here to read the full review.


This review was published on November 6, 2014 by ForeWord Reviews.

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My rating: 8 kittens.

Ashes Under Water: The SS Eastland and the Shipwreck That Shook America by Michael McCarthy

Profiles of the central personalities involved in the career of the SS Eastland help to bring this compelling tale to life.

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After more than a decade of research, journalist and Chicago resident Michael McCarthy shares a heartbreaking history in Ashes Under Water: The SS Eastland and the Shipwreck that Shook America. McCarthy gives this little-known Lake Michigan tragedy a thorough and compassionate telling and covers the media frenzy and indictments that followed.

…Click here to read the full review.


This review was published on November 27, 2014 by ForeWord Reviews.

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My rating: 6 inches.

Wawahte by Robert P. Wells

Wells tells a haunting tale of three Canadian Indians and abuse during their forced schooling in government institutions.

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In Wawahte, Robert P. Wells sets out to tell the story of Canada’s First Nation children who were taken from their homes and their parents by the Canadian government and installed in Indian residential schools. For more than one hundred years, from 1883 to 1996, generations of children were subjected to physical, verbal, and sexual abuse, racism, and denigration in these institutions, and were punished for speaking their native languages or practicing their beliefs. As told to Wells by three Indian residential school survivors, these haunting narratives are a familiar but gripping story of Western imperial dominance. While the writing is unpolished, the accounts are nonetheless harrowing and important.

…Click here to read the full review.


This review was published on August 27, 2014 by ForeWord Reviews. 8-29-2014 10-30-23 AM


My rating: 5 nights.
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