House on Endless Waters

House on Endless WatersHouse on Endless Waters by Emuna Elon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Flipping back and forth between the years of WWII and the present, this novel follows the lives of the Blum family and their hidden family secret.

Yoel Blum’s fame as an author brings him back to Amsterdam, his birthplace, despite the promise that he has made to his late mother – to never return to the place that caused his family a lot of sorrow. While in the city, Yoel and his wife decide to visit a Jewish Museum. During the tour, in one of the photos, Yoel recognizes his mother’s face. And the more he examines the photo – the more questions filled his mind.

In the spur of the moment, one photograph flipped Yoel’s life upside down. And just like that, piece by piece, with his sister’s and mother’s remaining friends’ memories and a little help of his own research, like a puzzle, Yoel builds a true picture of his past.

You have a mother, and you have a sister, and you have yourself. That’s it, nothing else matters.

The past and present timelines wove together so beautifully. The tragedy of Blum’s family left me devastated, however, their ability to forgive gives me hope in humanity. Thank you NetGalley and Atria Books publishers for a free and advanced copy of the novel.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird (To Kill a Mockingbird, #1)To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I began reading “To Kill a Mockingbird“.

This classic is about the small 1960s Alabama family: widower and father Atticus and his two kids Jem and Jean Louise ‘Scout’. The main plot of the novel revolves around Atticus’ criminal case: he is defending a black man who has been accused of insulting a young white girl. Besides the big trial, the novel covers other main topics of the 60s – race, gender, and social class. Our young characters Jem and Scout are raised by an open-minded father who teaches them the differences between love vs hate, good vs bad, kindness vs inhumanity.

Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corncribs, don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out of us.

Despite the unhappy outcome, the end of the novel brings closure and a lesson for the reader. It is sin to kill a Mockingbird, and sins do not remain unpunished for long.

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Revolutionary Brothers

Revolutionary Brothers: Thomas Jefferson, the Marquis de Lafayette, and the Friendship That Helped Forge Two NationsRevolutionary Brothers: Thomas Jefferson, the Marquis de Lafayette, and the Friendship That Helped Forge Two Nations by Tom Chaffin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was pleasantly surprised by Tom Chaffin’s new book “Revolutionary Brothers“.

The novel gives a short but very detailed dual biography of Thomas Jefferson and the Marquis de LaFayette. As a good American, I know many facts and details of Mr. Jefferson’s life, however, this book gave me a better insight into his life before and after making a huge impact on American History.

The story of the Marquis de LaFayette’s life was very fascinating, and his rise and fall of power have been very intriguing. He has left tremendous footsteps in American history, and unfortunately is not fully recognized by it.

An author has written a history that reads like a novel, which makes it so easy to read. He characterized the friendship of two extraordinary people in a remarkable manner. Thanks to him, I learned so much more about American History. Thank you NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for a free and advanced copy of the novel.

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America Is Immigrants

America Is ImmigrantsAmerica Is Immigrants by Sara Nović

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The moment I saw the name of the book – I was eager to read it.

America is a county that WAS built by immigrants and IS a country of immigrants. This specific publication has combined a large list of successful people who have made Americal as we know it today.

The US is home to foreign-born athletes, artists, civil rights leaders, inventors, scientists who have migrated to America and contributed to its history & leadership, medicine & food industries, social media & entertainment, industrial and technology inventions, etc.

It’s a wonderful and short read, that simply boosts with positive energy. Thank you, NetGalley, Random House pub and Sara Nović for a free and advanced copy of the wonderful book.

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The Great Crash of 1929

The Great Crash of 1929The Great Crash of 1929 by John Kenneth Galbraith

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

“The Great Crash of 1929” has been seating on my “to be read” shelf for ages, and I finally gave it a chance. In the past couple of years, I came across many books/articles/stories/movies that at some degree evolved around the big financial crash of 1929, therefore I wanted to dig a bit dipper to fully understand the history of the big misfortune and learn the reasons that lead to the atrocious tragedy and effected many lives and lasted for almost a decade.

I was expecting the book to be written in chronological order, instead, it jumped back and forth between years/decades and overwhelmed me with all the details and facts about the stock exchange that I was not familiar with. Nevertheless, the novel has provided a lot of info that summarized the history of the big stock market crash and provided detailed explanations to the reasons that lead to it:

1. The bad distribution of income
2. The bad corporate structure
3. The bad banking structure
4. The dubious state of the foreign balance
5. The poor state of economic intelligence

This is an old edition of the book, that has been written and publishes decades ago, regardless, it contains the historical events and facts about the largest stock market crash.

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Barack and Joe: The Making of an Extraordinary Partnership

Barack and Joe: The Making of an Extraordinary PartnershipBarack and Joe: The Making of an Extraordinary Partnership by Steven Levingston

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The political bromance, Barack and Joe’s friendship, and collaboration will forever leave its footprint in American history.

Starting from political rivals, the two managed to build a strong foundation of the phenomenal President & Vice President team. This book tells the story of two democratic US senators who came from two completely opposite backgrounds but shared an important mission. This is not a biography of either man, this is a story of their bond, the way they were able to look past their differences, listened and accepted each other’s objectives, and most importantly – held one another’s back. An author made an excellent note regarding the two: the Barack-and-Joe friendship did something else: it stirred the imagination. It gave Americans hope that the nation could work together harmoniously. Barack and Joe looked beyond color and age and personal quirks to the importance of shared values.

This book is an easy read. I didn’t find any new information in it, however, it is a perfect guide for any political enthusiast that contains all the facts of Barack and Joe’s friendship and partnership during their time in The Office.

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Condé Nast: The Man and His Empire

Condé Nast: The Man and His Empire -- A BiographyCondé Nast: The Man and His Empire — A Biography by Susan Ronald

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Susan Ronals did an incredible job of composing a phenomenal book about the life of the publishing magnate Conde Nast, the founder of Vogue, Glamour, Conde Nast Traveler, Vanity Fair, and many more world’s best-known magazines.

The book begins with a story of Nast family, their origin and background. Very early in the book, we find out that Conde has come from a broken family, however, it never reflected on his character. Opposit to his father, he remained close with his family, children, and ex-wives.

From the first pages of the book, Conde’s character showed affection to the circle of his friends and partners, dedication, fearfulness, honorable and strong will. He never has forgotten where he came from, and people who helped him succeed. Although, he was equitable with his frenemies and competitors.

It was very interesting to read about the way Conde has built and extended his publishing empire. He is a great example of a man who has been knocked down in personal and business lives, however no matter how hard the hit was – Conde always found ways to get back up. I’m fascinated by his life and accomplishments.

Thank you Susan Ronals for a remarkable story and introduction to the life of world’s famous publishing mogul. And big thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press publishing for a free and advanced copy of the book.

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The Russia Trap

The Russia Trap: How Our Shadow War with Russia Could Spiral Into Nuclear CatastropheThe Russia Trap: How Our Shadow War with Russia Could Spiral Into Nuclear Catastrophe by George Beebe

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“The Russia Trap” is a great book that combines a political and economic history of Russia. This book is direct, short and up to the point guide for anyone who is not familiar with the history of Russia after the Cold War. Not only the author introduces the reader to the history of one of the largest countries in the world, but he also explains the relationship between US and Russia, or in other words – “the war behind the scene”.

This book would be a perfect present for any political or eastern European enthusiast. Thank you, NetGalley and Thomas Dunne Books publisher for a free and advanced copy of the book.

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Dear Scott, Dearest Zelda: The Love Letters of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald

Dear Scott, Dearest Zelda: The Love Letters of F. Scott and Zelda FitzgeraldDear Scott, Dearest Zelda: The Love Letters of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald by F. Scott Fitzgerald

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Dear Scott, Dearest Zelda: The Love Letters of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald” book combine survived Fitzgeralds’ letters that Scott and Zelda have exchanged from the time they have met and thru Scott’s death.

For me, as a newbie to Scott and Zelda’s love story, this book was a phenomenal information source that explained very thoroughly Fitzgeralds’ relationship and reasons that drove Scott to alcoholism and Zelda to insanity.

One thing that fascinated me the most was their dedication to each other. Even in the period of Zelda’s first breakdown, Fitzgeralds were able to sustain their alliance despite the fact they have blamed each other for their failures. It was an interesting fact to see that while apart – Fitzgeralds’ lead calmer lives, but once together – their worlds would collapse with rapid speed.

While reading Fitzgeralds’ letters – I often caught myself thinking: how different their lives would become if they would never be married, or separated once their marriage problems have begun. Would Zelda lose her sanity? Would Scott’s alcoholism be prevented?

In the end, I find Fitzgeralds’ story love story passionate and romantic. Two highly intelligent people hopelessly in love, whose remarkable personalities clash once together, but remained devoted to each other thru their best times and worst. Their story is inspirational but tragique at the same time.

Thank you, NetGalley for an advanced free copy of the book.

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Art Lover’s Guide to Paris

Art Lover's Guide to ParisArt Lover’s Guide to Paris by Ruby Boukabou

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love Paris. Every time I step my foot in this magnificent city, I’m fascinated by its history and culture. Paris is not just a city, it’s a world. Coming upon “Art Lover’s Guide to Paris” book on NetGalley was a pleasant surprise. This is a very simple, short guide to all must-see museums, galleries, artist’s houses, and studios, restaurants, hotels, brasseries. It even includes chateaus that are locating a short distance away from Paris. The guide includes a short description of every place, including a little history and its addresses, which is incredibly helpful. Having been to Paris multiple times, I’ve visited probably 1/3 of the sites from the guide, and now I have a new list of places I will visit the next time I’m in the city of lights.

Thank you NetGalley and White Owl Publishers for an advanced copy of the book and Ruby Boukabou for creating a phenomenal guide of Paris’ most magnificent places.

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Queen Victoria: Twenty Four Days That Changed Her Life

Queen Victoria: Twenty-Four Days That Changed Her LifeQueen Victoria: Twenty-Four Days That Changed Her Life by Lucy Worsley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It was a very long book to start my 2019 reading year. However, Queen Victoria did live a very long and sensational life.

I’ve always admired Queen Victoria. England went thru many great changes during her reign. She is known as a woman who redefined British monarchy. Thankfully to this book, I’ve learned many new facts about Victoria. I was not aware of “baby race” prior to this book. And it was great to learn more about her parents, her relationship with uncle Leopold. And there were many new details about her favorite attendants: Munshi and John Brown. Her relationship with Disraeli and Lord Melbourne. Also, this book confirmed my theory about Albert and Victoria’s marriage and bond.

This book is a great introduction to the Queen’s life. However, just keep in mind that this book is not about Victoria’s twenty-four specific days that have changed her life, the writer has divided her life into twenty-four periods. In my opinion, the book is very well written, thoughtfully sorted, each chapter of the Queen’s life is covered equally. It is quite captivating. I really like Lucy Worsley’s style of writing. She makes it into a fascinating story instead of just counting Victoria’s biography facts.

Thank you NetGalley and MacMillan publisher for a free copy of this book.

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Hitler’s Last Day

Hitler's Last DayHitler’s Last Day by Richard Dargie

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I picked up this book, with hopes to learn a little more of Hitler’s actual last day. The story in the book opens up broader to the whole story behind Hitler’s history.

I enjoyed the book, and author’s writing. It reminded me a lot of the book I’ve read earlier this year called “Five Days That Shocked the World” by Nicolas Best. Unlike the first book, this story is introduced in a lighter and less bald way. While telling the story of Hitler’s last day, the author trails back to the earlier days of Nazi’s leader. The book introduced me to a few brand new details, for example, Hitler’s relationship with women, a history behind it, his WWI experience and new facts/rumors from that time. And most importantly Stalin’s point of view on Hitler’s suicide. Many other facts were already known to me, however, it was a nice way to refresh the memory.

“Hitler’s Last Day” is a wonderful, short, very informative story of Nazi’s leader. Wonderful read and definitely a gift for any history lovers. Thank you, NetGalley for a free copy of the book, and Richard Dargie for a fascinating story.

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