Professional Reader 80% 25 Book Reviews 2016 NetGalley Challenge

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Animators - Review

The Animators    🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
by Kayla Rae Whitaker
Published  January  31 2017 by Random House

Finished 2/16/17

Like oil and water, Mel and Sharon would appear on the outside to be the types that don't  blend together.  But the more we get to know  these friends, they seem like an old married couple in just how balanced  their relationship is and how suited to each other they are. 

Quirky Mel:  Raised in Florida by a prostituting mother who died in prison.  Mel and Sharon have made a very successful animated film of Mel's crazy life, resulting in a grant to do another.

Sensible Sharon:   Grew up in a dysfunctional family in Kentucky, feeling a disconnect with them all, having only one best friend in the neighbor boy who probably influenced her life the most, for good or bad.  Now it's  Sharon turn to have her life flashed up on the big screen, but she has her reservations about the aftermath.  Just as she kept Mel sane through her story, now it's  Mel keeping things copacetic even through some very bad times.

This is just the tip of the iceberg.  You can see the Titanic off in the distance about to smash into that iceberg and set the plot spinning off in unimaginable ways.    That is not a bad thing.  It is very, very good.  Wrought with emotions, fantastic dialog, and deep subplots mixed  with sharp humor, wisdom, and originality.  I couldn't  put it down.   

Thanks to NetGalley  and the publisher.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Patriots - Review

The Patriots  🌟🌟🌟
by Sana Krasikov
Published January 24 2017 by Siegel & Grau

Finished 2/7/17

The Patriots is a beautifully inspired epic of Florence Fein from Brooklyn, a career girl of Russian Jewish descent.  Her job takes her to Cleveland to assist with a business  deal between her American employer and a Russian company.  Smitten with one of the Russians, she eventually trails him to the homeland.  This begins her long story recounting the years 1932-1934 and up in Russia, turbulent  years to put it mildly.  She and her Jewish husband come through WWII virtually unscathed, safer there from persecution than perhaps  anywhere  else.  But they are in Russia  and so it does not remain   safe for long.  They are soon arrested for espionage and their little  boy placed in an orphanage.  

I much enjoyed Florence's  story, alternated with a narration from her son Julian, who became an American.  There was a third story of Julian's  son Lenny,  who resides in Moscow, and a visit from Julian, which I felt added very little to the story  and almost, in fact, ruined it all for me.  The book is over 500 pages and jumps  around a great deal between countries and between timelines.  This is a lethal combination for me and I felt like giving up on it many times.  I'm glad to have finished  though because it turned out to be a lesson in loyalties,  faith,  forgiveness, perseverance, promises kept, and much more.  

Monday, February 6, 2017

Following Atticus - Review

Following Atticus  🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
by Tom Ryan
Published September 20 2011 by William Morrow

Finished 2.6.2017

How can one help but love this 20 pound fur baby?  This powerhouse  known as Atticus M. Finch (love that), Little Buddha, or Little Giant in and around his home town of Newburyport, MA, led his best friend Tom Ryan hiking the White Mountains of New Hampshire, making history one winter summiting over 48 peaks in honor of a friend who had died of cancer.  As  Atticus  and Tom reached each peak, they would pause at the summit and bond while gazing out at the beauty of the landscape.  They grew famous and beloved through news of their treks, by the amazement at a small dog's ability to accomplish such feats and overcome adversities.  Through the power of their friendship, light prevailed over darkness when tragedy struck.  

I first learned of this dynamic duo watching an Animal Planet special several years back.  Then I read a heartbreaking  review of the book  following Atticus' passing last year. The audio book is narrated by Tom Ryan--New England accent and all.   (Who knew that Newburyport was pronounced New Breport?)  Atticus M. Finch changed Tom Ryan's life and that of all who knew him and who continue to learn of him.   I loved how Tom trained him from a pup not with punishments or rewards, but with the respect deserving a Please and Thank you for each favor granted.  Atticus taught Tom how to love and how to live, about kindness, and how to dream.  Tom gave Atti selfless adoration and a good life mingled with nature.

I checked out Tom's blog and learned that he is still writing (great news!) and has a new companion, Samwise, with whom he already hikes as he did with Atticus.  Last month atop a summit they watched Mars, the moon, and Venus align and Tom wrote:

"As Emerson would say in his Transcendental way..., Samwise and I were with our peers out in that snowy field, with stars so brilliant, so bewildering, and  humbling, I couldn't help but feel I was part of all we saw.  And that little line that divides man and beast vanished and what we shared was the sacrament of communion.

Nature has a way of bringing us home..."

Two more books are forthcoming!