Category: Book Reviews by Veronica Jorge

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BOOK REVIEW: THE HIDING GAME by Gwen Strauss

March 22, 2022 by in category Book Reviews by Veronica Jorge, Write From the Heart by Veronica Jorge tagged as ,

THE HIDING GAME

Gwen Strauss

illustrated by Herb Leonhard

Pelican Publishing Co.

 2017  

ISBN 978-1-455622658

A REVIEW BY VERONICA JORGE

Picture books, that welcoming world of imagery and words that capture the heart and the imagination. And most wonderful of all, when the story is true and reveals a hidden gem.

The Hiding Game, a work of creative nonfiction, is a moving account of the author’s great-uncle Daniel Benedite and Varian Fry, brave men who were instrumental in saving the lives of some of the most important scientists, artists, writers and thinkers of the day such as; Vlady Serge who fled to Mexico and became one of the country’s leading muralist, Max Ernst, a German painter, and artists Marc Chagall and Marcel Duchamp, among others.

Little Aube, daughter of the famous poet, Andre Breton,( known as the Pope of Surrealism), is forced to move from place to place with her family during the 1940s in Nazi-occupied France. They eventually find shelter in Villa Air-Bel, a hidden villa where Varian, with funds from the New York American Rescue Committee, works with Daniel to arrange passage for them, and others, out of war-torn Europe.

Sundays are Aube’s favorite day because, together with all of the “guests” in the house, she spends the day drawing, singing, and playing games. “Papa said that by singing, playing and laughing with the greatest joy, they would fight against fear.”

But most of the time, things remain secret, like the radio for listening to the war news, and the cow in the yard for giving milk. Aube also has her own secret hiding place; the old armoire in the kitchen, just in case “they” come.

Illustrations by Herb Leonhard draw the reader into the lives of the characters, turning a factual account into a personal encounter with time and history. Strauss also provides actual photos of the individuals, a brief history of the account, and links for further study and reading.

I leave you with a quote listed in the book’s endnotes attributed to Rosemary Sullivan’s book, Villa Air-Bel. “Andre Breton believed that surrealism and art must keep the playful child inside us alive. He believed that laughter was fundamentally the opposite of fascism.”

Veronica Jorge

See you next time on April 22nd!

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The Librarian of Auschwitz: A Book Review by Veronica Jorge

February 22, 2022 by in category Book Reviews by Veronica Jorge, Write From the Heart by Veronica Jorge tagged as , , , ,

THE LIBRARIAN OF AUSCHWITZ

by

Antonio Iturbe

translated by

Lilit Thwaites.

A REVIEW BY VERONICA JORGE

Henry Holt & Co., 2012,

First American Edition, 2017   

ISBN 978-1-62779-618-7

Recently, I replaced my worn copy of Hard Times by Charles Dickens, a novel about the political and economic woes of the 19th century. Hmm. Sound familiar? He prefaces one of the themes of the novel by quoting the biblical phrase, ‘what a man sows, that he will also reap.’ The story unfolds with the ‘seeds’ that each character sows, and the consequences of what they reap.

But that’s a sermon for the pulpit.

My topic addresses the need for books. Replacing this book, and several others, required a long search to obtain the copies in the editions and hard covers I desired. Did I really need to go through so much trouble for a book? Were they worth that much to me? Yes!

Which reminded me of…you guessed it…a book; The Librarian of Auschwitz by the Spanish journalist and author Antonio Iturbe, and based on the true story of Dita Kraus, the little girl who risked her life for the sake of books.

Block 31 in the Auschwitz/Birkenau concentration camp houses about five hundred children and several adults named counselors. Secretly they run a school and hide a library that consists of eight books which include, A Short History of the World by H.G. Wells, a Russian grammar, and a book on analytical geometry. Not exactly essential reading or something to risk your life for, yet that is exactly what they do. Dita is entrusted to hide the books in a different place each night because these books fill their greatest need: the survival of their minds and souls.

The story examines bravery, the causes people risk their lives for, and questions the importance of books. As the author examines on page 408 of his postscript, “Books can’t be used as weapons. They can’t fill a hungry stomach or quench thirst. They can’t cure illnesses, loneliness or prejudice.”

 Or can they?

The Librarian of Auschwitz, together with Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (1953), The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (2007), ( the narrator in Zuzak’s book is Death, wow!), and the non-fiction book by historian of education Diane Ravitch, The Language Police (2003), to name a few, deserve our attention for they remind us of the importance of freedom of thought and expression. In addition, books can indeed satisfy our hunger and thirst for knowledge; they make good companions to ease loneliness; they open our minds to empathize with other cultures and curb prejudice.

Books are also weapons. To quote an often used phrase: ‘The pen is mightier than the sword.’ So, let’s keep on writing.

Iturbe concludes that humans can survive with just the basic necessities, but it is culture and books that make a complete person. Without them humanity dies.

Veronica Jorge

See you next time on March 22nd!

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THE LAST GOODNIGHT by Kat Martin—A REVIEW BY VERONICA JORGE

October 22, 2021 by in category Book Reviews by Veronica Jorge, Write From the Heart by Veronica Jorge tagged as , , ,

The Last Goodnight

Kat Martin

Kensington Publishing Corp.

October 26, 2021  

ISBN 978-1-4967-3679-6

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The weather’s getting cooler. Falling leaves and changing colors begin the transition into a new season. Nature can be blustery, wild, destructive, regenerative, and unexpected. Like life, and the lives of the characters in Kat Martin’s new romantic thriller, The Last Goodnight.

Kade Logan never saw his wife, Heather, again after their divorce. Her disappearance always puzzled him. Until the day her murdered body had been found in the hills of Denver. Shoving aside his hurt feelings of betrayal from Heather’s unfaithfulness, he hires a private investigator to find her killer. But he never expected the P.I. would be Ellie Bowman; petite and gorgeous.

Ellie moves in to Kade’s Diamond Bar ranch in Coffee Springs, Colorado and works undercover as a cook, trying to narrow down the list of possible killers. At this point every friend, ranch hand, and town shopkeeper are suspects; including the sheriff, Glen Carver!

Kade and Ellie work the case while also trying to tame the growing attraction between them. Both divorced and victims of unfaithful spouses, they find trust and love elusive and frightening. But when Heather’s killer resurfaces and hones in on Ellie, they both realize the choice they must each make. Hopefully, before it’s too late.

So, grab a hot cup of brew and a throw and nestle into your cozy chair. The Last Goodnight will have you loving and rooting for handsome, powerful Kade and beautiful feisty Ellie where you’ll find that it’s not just murder and caffeine pounding through the town of Coffee Springs, Colorado.

Oh, and just so y’all know, I got dibs on Kade Logan.

Veronica Jorge

See you next time on November 22nd!


Other Books by Kat Martin

(Hover over the covers for buy links. Click on the cover for more information.)

BEYOND CONTROL

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BEYOND CONTROL

BEYOND DANGER

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BEYOND DANGER

BEYOND REASON

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BEYOND REASON

COME MIDNIGHT

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COME MIDNIGHT

PIVOT

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PIVOT

SHADOWS AT DAWN

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SHADOWS AT DAWN

THE CONSPIRACY

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THE CONSPIRACY

THE DECEPTION

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THE DECEPTION

THE LAST GOODNIGHT

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THE LAST GOODNIGHT

THE PERFECT MURDER

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THE PERFECT MURDER

THE ULTIMATE BETRAYAL

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THE ULTIMATE BETRAYAL

WAIT UNTIL DARK

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WAIT UNTIL DARK

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BOOK REVIEW: MIGUEL’s BRAVE KNIGHT: YOUNG CERVANTES and HIS DREAM of Don Quixote

September 22, 2021 by in category Book Reviews by Veronica Jorge, Write From the Heart by Veronica Jorge tagged as , , , ,

MIGUEL’s BRAVE KNIGHT: YOUNG CERVANTES and HIS DREAM of Don Quixote

by Margarita Engle

illustrated by Raul Colon

Peachtree Publishers, 2017  

ISBN 978-1561458561

A REVIEW BY VERONICA JORGE

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I don’t know about you, but I could sure use a little good news; a happily-ever-after ending to a long tumultuous never-ending season. It’s not likely I’ll see the dust cloud of a hero riding in, or hear the sound of a trumpet blasting in victory.

Enter the picture book to the rescue to soothe, cheer and calm the heart with its hopeful words and uplifting illustrations. Which reminded me of a book I once reviewed and which I find to be pertinent to our times, all times; Miguel’s Brave Knight: Young Cervantes and His Dream of Don Quixote by Margarita Engle; illustrated by Raul Colon.

Fairytales make us believe that dreams can and do come true. But it was Don Quixote who dared brave the dragons, (that is windmills and obstacles), that imprison the treasures and beauty of life, in order to set them free.

In Miguel’s Brave Knight, the reader meets the boy Miguel de Cervantes. Born in 1547, and a contemporary of the English playwright William Shakespeare, Cervantes would become one of Spain and Latin America’s most important literary figures. Today the world knows him best as the creator of the idealistic, and sometimes foolish, Don Quixote, the Man of La Mancha. His character’s name has even become part of the English language; quixotic, which Webster’s dictionary defines as: foolishly impractical, especially in the pursuit of ideals.

Well-known for her strong and descriptive verses, Margarita Engle, winner of numerous awards, enchants the reader with a series of poems that reveal the personal sorrows, as well as the social and political events of the day, that shaped Miguel’s life and formed his thoughts. “Hunger”, “Waiting”, “Daydreams”, “Disaster”, “Learning to Write” and, “Imagination”, are some of the poem titles that portray the young author in the making. (Also sounds like a day in the life of a writer).

Full-page pen and ink watercolor illustrations by Raul Colon, an award-winning illustrator of more than thirty books for children, complement Engle’s moving verses. The muted brown, grey, and blue tones create dream-like visions that help the reader experience Miguel’s life.

The end pages include interesting author and illustrator notes, and important historical and biographical information.

A book that awakens dormant aspirations and provokes action, Miguel’s Brave Knight is a timeless tale of the power of the imagination to create hope out of despair, turn dreams into reality, and bring into existence the light from within that dispels the darkness. In this way one can, as Miguel says, “right all the wrongs of this wonderful but terribly mixed-up world.” (From the last line of Engle’s poem, Imagination).

Which proves what we as readers and writers already know: words have power. So let’s saddle up, pen, or laptop, in hand and join our brave and idealistic knight in his marvelous quest for that unreachable star.

(My Review Originally published by the Christian Library Journal; used with permission.)

Veronica Jorge

See you next time on October 22nd!


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FOUR CUTS TOO MANY: A Sarah Blair Mystery by DEBRA H. GOLDSTEIN—A REVIEW BY VERONICA JORGE

May 22, 2021 by in category Book Reviews by Veronica Jorge, Write From the Heart by Veronica Jorge tagged as , , , ,

Four Cuts Too Many: A Sarah Blair Mystery By Debra H. Goldstein

Kensington Publishing Corp.  2021   ISBN 978-1-4967-3221-7

It started out as a regular day. Sarah Blair sat outside of the Carleton Junior Community College waiting for her friend Grace Winston, a cutlery teacher in the culinary arts department. And if you’ve read the previous Sarah Blair mysteries, you know that nothing is ever ordinary in Sarah’s life.

In Four Cuts Too Many, Debra H. Goldstein’s new Sarah Blair cozy mystery, Dr. Douglas Martin, the chairman of the culinary arts program gets stabbed in the back…literally. Sarah dons her sleuthing cap once again to find the real killer, but she finds herself hard pressed to figure out who had the best motive because the entire staff referred to Dr. Martin as the ‘Malevolent Monster.’

When the police target Grace as the prime suspect, even Sarah cannot explain away her friend’s argument with the chairman and her bloody apron. Or the fact that the knife in his back belonged to Grace!

Like searching for a hidden object embedded in a painting, Debra is a master at hiding the true killer in plain sight within the story. Filled with a motley crew of characters and a tangle of secret lives, and ambitious hearts where no one is exactly what they seem, Four Cuts Too Many is an engaging page turner and a delightful read.

I can’t wait to read what Debra cooks up in her next mystery.  Five __ Too Many?  Whatever it is, I am certain that with her creativity and story skills she will create another recipe for success.

And if you want to ramp up your kitchen skills, the recipes at the end of the book are a tasty ending to a great story so make sure to treat yourself. 

Veronica Jorge

See you next time on June 22nd!

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The Sarah Blair Mystery Series

(Hover over covers for buy links. Click covers for more information.)

ONE TASTE TOO MANY

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ONE TASTE TOO MANY

TWO BITES TOO MANY

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TWO BITES TOO MANY

THREE TREATS TOO MANY

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THREE TREATS TOO MANY

FOUR CUTS TOO MANY

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FOUR CUTS TOO MANY
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