Saturday Book Review: “I Wonder: A Book for Children, Parents and other Grownups”

Book reviews are a great way for self-publishing authors to gain exposure. After all, how can someone buy your book if he or she doesn’t know it exists? Paired with other elements of your book promotion strategy, requesting reviews is a great way to get people talking about what you’ve written.

When we read good reviews, we definitely like to share them. It gives the author a few (permanent) moments of fame and allows us to let the community know about a great book. Here’s this week’s book review, courtesy of Books, Reviews, Etc:

I Wonder: A Book for Children, Parents and other Grownups by Jane Altman

I Wonder: A Book for Children, Parents and other Grownups

by Jane Altman

Publisher: Outskirts Press

ISBN: 9781478765820

Synopsis*:

This book is a treasure! It is unusual in its endearing and educational verses and illustrations for children and in its engaging and varied pieces for parents – and other grownups. The rhymes are appealing, the illustrations are wonderful and the writings range from heartfelt to very funny. All in all a must read.

 * courtesy of Amazon.com

Critique:

The author has written this book as if it were a poem. It will probably be recognized since it is similar to “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”. Children will get into the swing of the book in no time. The beginning of each verse is a question about the different animals, such as, “How I wonder little bat, being blind in the dark, how you fly like that.” This allows the children to stop and think about it. The adults can talk about the bat and how it lives with the child. It’s a learning experience. With each verse there is a colorful illustration of the animal. There is a nice little page that has a frame where your child can put his or her own picture. Very cute. Then there is a magical fantasy story “The Glow-Stones” which allows children to see the magic where adults have a hard time slipping into that fantasy of magic.

In Part Two, there is poetry for the adults.Some are pieces about the future and how the child will feel when certain events happen.Some of the poems are on everyday things such as flowers. Then there is a funny piece which will make you chuckle and think. A wonderful book that is great to bring parent and child together for a reflection of the past and a look into the future. A book that every grown up and child should have on their book shelf to read and re-read.

I received this complimentary copy from the author, Jane Altman in exchange for my unbiased review. No other compensation took place.

I would give this book 4 STARS.

reviewed by Gayle Pace of Books, Reviews, Etc ]

Here’s what some other reviewers are saying:

In “I Wonder,” Jane Altman has created a poem that children will feel is familiar from the start. It has a similar structure to that of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” that will help young readers easily catch on to the rhythm of the text. Each verse opens up the possibility for discussion about the various animals that are mentioned, elephants, mice, bats, etc. And the illustration for the final verse also allows the child to paste a photo of him/herself into the book and making it very personal. There is also a fantasy story titled “The Glow-Stones,” which portrays the ability of children to perceive the magical when adults only see the commonplace.

Within the second part of the book, Altman has a collection of poetry that is tailored for the adults in the family. Some are nostalgic in tone – pieces wondering over how children will grow up, how one would feel on the very last day of the one-hundredth year of life, or why youth fades away. Others reflect on more everyday occurrences such as admiring flowers or pondering why grass can be so much work to maintain. And then there is the comedic piece about an undergarment that t’aint fittin’ any longer. The whole book feels like a peek into someone’s journal and catching their changing moods from day to day.

This is a book meant to be read together and enjoyed together.

– The Fairview Review

Four out of five stars.

The first section of part one contains a series of four line rhymes that generally have the same rhythm, one that reminded me of the song “Twinkle twinkle little star.” The structure is an image referencing the rhyme on the left side with the text on the right. There are fourteen such items, all but the last referring to animals. The last one is designed to reference the young reader.

The next section of part one is a short story about a small village near the ruins of a very old castle. No one ever goes into it and no one seems to care about it. When a young man decides to leave the village and go out in the world, a stone in the castle glows at him, so he stops to grab it and then takes it with him. Something similar happens when a young woman also starts her journey out of the village.

The two people then marry other people and have children, the story continues after their deaths when their children are going through their belongings and find what appear to be nondescript stones. They all return to the ancestral village and the children then see things in the castle that their parents cannot.

Part two is given the designation that it is for the parents and grownups and is a set of short segments of more complex verse. There are rhymes having various orders where the matches occur. For example, the section of verse called “What to Do?” has three line segments where the first two lines rhyme as well as the third lines of sequential sections. They are designed to be read to children, they will sound pretty good if the proper intonation is applied.

This is a good book for children, one that children will enjoy having read to them, for they have a natural affinity for rhyming verse.

– Charles Ashbacher Reviews


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Saturday Book Review: “The Journey Begins: A Walk Of Faith”

Book reviews are a great way for self-publishing authors to gain exposure. After all, how can someone buy your book if he or she doesn’t know it exists? Paired with other elements of your book promotion strategy, requesting reviews is a great way to get people talking about what you’ve written.

When we read good reviews, we definitely like to share them. It gives the author a few (permanent) moments of fame and allows us to let the community know about a great book. Here’s this week’s book review, courtesy of Edge Induced Cohesion:

The Journey Begins A Walk of Faith by Lynn M. Strong

The Journey Begins:  A Walk Of Faith

by Lynn M. Strong

Publisher: Outskirts Press

ISBN: 9781478776932

Synopsis*:

Spiritually fed, spiritually led and poetically said. When Lynn Strong found himself forced into early retirement at age 58, he felt utterly lost. In desperation, he turned to God and prayed for answers-for guidance on this unplanned detour. That day, he surrendered his all and vowed to serve the Lord as never before. The Journey Begins: A Walk of Faith is a collection of poetry that reflects Lynn’s personal and spiritual journey. Inspired by the Spirit as God led him each day, the poems are simple and accessible, yet filled with raw emotion and a joyful celebration of faith.

 * courtesy of Amazon.com

Critique:

There are times where knowing something about the context of a book makes it more enjoyable to read.  This short book, about 90 pages in length, was written by the author when he was put on early retirement at the age of 58, and struggled with feeling old and unappreciated, and having a hard time finding good work again.  What he did was something remarkable, and wonderful, and that is writing this particular short book and sharing with the appreciative readers of this book his own reflects and thoughts and poetry.  As someone who has read many books from this publisher [1], this book definitely gets self-publishing right, and that is by providing something other people are going to want to read.  There are a lot of people who struggle with growing older and being forced into early retirement, and this book is short enough and well-written enough that it would be a comfort to many people and an encouragement for them to write about their own thoughts and feelings and to share their own struggles with the negativity involved in feeling like the purposes of life have been reduced by a lack of work.

After an introduction, that explains the genesis of the author’s writings, this book consists of more than 40 reflections with a particular format, given a title and with three verses or short passages from the Bible, a commentary of one to three paragraphs, and a short poem made up of quatrains with an ABCB rhyme scheme that sound like the metrical psalms popular in many English-speaking Protestant churches.  The titles generally give a fair picture of the contents:  Help Us Lord, Old Age, Power Monday, Our Walk / Your Way, Keep The Faith, In The Press, and Thoughts In Mind are some examples of the contents provided in these pages.  The contents are all very straightforward–this is not deeply symbolic and mysterious poetry but rather direct and often didactic poetry written in the first and second person.  As someone who has read more than my fair share of really bad poetry, it is nice from time to time to read poetry that has no pretensions and that manages to convey its point straightforwardly.  Those who read this book will not be in any mystery about what the author is talking about, and are likely to find some encouragement in the author’s words as well as the choice citations from scripture.

The title of this book gives the indication that there is likely to be more material from the author yet to come.  If, for example, this is the beginning of a journey, there may yet be more volumes of writing from the author, and that is likely to be enjoyable.  The author has been married to his high school sweetheart for 40 years and has also been involved in prison ministry, both of which are spoken of here in the book, and both of which likely can provide the author with insight for further books.  Perhaps having begun his writing with this particular volume, the success of these efforts will encourage the author to future books, which, if they are as good as this volume, will likely also be encouraging and pleasant to read.  The author strikes the reader as someone who was likely not encouraged to be a writer during his youth, and as a result the author appears not to have spent years practicing work.  It is noteworthy that it was a crisis of retirement that prompted the author to begin to write, and one can only hope that he found as much peace and enjoyment writing this book as others are likely to find reading it.  The world can always use more people who write honestly and well.

reviewed by Nathan Albright of Edge Induced Cohesion ]

Here’s what another reviewer said:

At age 58, Lynn M. Strong was forced into early retirement. He felt lost, desperate, looking for guidance…. Lynn turned to God and his prayers were answered. He surrendered himself to the Lord and was filled with these poems and verses that are written in his book, The Journey Begins.

I feel so blessed to be given the opportunity to review this book. As I read each poem I could feel the difficulties that Mr. Strong faced and I could feel how God’s love and guidance lifted him and help him along the way. As I read the poems and the verses I could feel the Lord lifting me from a time of sorrow that I had been placed inside. I know God is there for each of us. Loving us… helping us.. we just need to give him our all. That’s exactly what Lynn Strong did and in his book you feel the love of God as you read each page and enjoy his beautiful soul.

– Amazon Reviewer Amy


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Saturday Book Review: “Read: Decoding the Reading Obstacle – Increase Your Test Scores in Reading and Science”

Book reviews are a great way for self-publishing authors to gain exposure. After all, how can someone buy your book if he or she doesn’t know it exists? Paired with other elements of your book promotion strategy, requesting reviews is a great way to get people talking about what you’ve written.

When we read good reviews, we definitely like to share them. It gives the author a few (permanent) moments of fame and allows us to let the community know about a great book. Here’s this week’s book review, courtesy of Midwest Book Review:

Read: Decoding the Reading Obstacle - Increase Your Test Scores in Reading and Science by Walker Guerrier

Read: Decoding the Reading Obstacle – Increase Your Test Scores in Reading and Science

by Walker Guerrier

Publisher: Outskirts Press

ISBN: 9781478776253

Synopsis*:

This book is design for top students, who have the desire to go above and beyond. I call them the seeds of greatness. The students I grew up who have used this approach are now doctors, scientists, and writers. These particular students became an engineer and doctor. Once you start using this book, your intellect will never be the same. This approach will help you attain your highest potential. Students all over the world use this book as a key to their success.

 * courtesy of Amazon.com

Critique:

A consumable workbook, “Read: Decoding the Reading Obstacle” is especially recommended for both public school, private school, and home-schooling curriculums, and as an ideal, effective, and ‘user friendly’ do-it-yourself study skills improvement manual for college students.

reviewed on the Education Bookshelf of Midwest Book Review ]


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Saturday Book Review: “A Slice of History, Musing on Religion”

Book reviews are a great way for self-publishing authors to gain exposure. After all, how can someone buy your book if he or she doesn’t know it exists? Paired with other elements of your book promotion strategy, requesting reviews is a great way to get people talking about what you’ve written.

When we read good reviews, we definitely like to share them. It gives the author a few (permanent) moments of fame and allows us to let the community know about a great book. Here’s this week’s book review, courtesy of Midwest Book Review:

a slice of history, musing on religion by frans koning

A Slice of History, Musing on Religion

by Frans Koning

Publisher: Outskirts Press

ISBN: 9781478760061

Synopsis*:

A View of the World from Three Continents. . . From a farm in The Netherlands to poverty-stricken Sierra Leone…from the brief peace after the Great War to the horrors of World War II…from Europe to America…this extraordinary book of anecdotal essays ranges through the life of a man who has lived broadly and deeply.

Author Frans Koning shares his observations and impressions on topics ranging from what it was like to be a teenager in a Nazi-occupied country, to his experiences in Africa with the Peace Corps, and his move to the United States. He has experienced the effects of brutality and fear and lived to tell about man’s inhumanity to man. With a perspective gained from three continents, he can see how human experience is both diverse and similar…and how patterns in human behavior emerge, from the Waffen SS to ISIS. Immediately engaging, loosely structured, and retaining a piquant flavor of his native land in a Dutchman’s English, A Slice of History is a uniquely personal yet immediately accessible memoir of life during the most turbulent decades of our time.

 * courtesy of Amazon.com

Critique:

Most Americans know World War II from secondary sources like books, documentaries, etc. or from people they know who were alive at that time. “A Slice of History: Musing on Religion” by Frans Koning is a delicious primary source on how a young man experienced the war in the Netherlands. The dominant theme coming so often from the US public on “How we saved Western Europe” misses the complexities involved for the Dutch and all other liberal minded youth in this part of Europe who lived through this period.

The book is written in the style of letters written to friends, or even a thoughtful diary, is a refreshing reading experience. Koning shares his religious and political thoughts and feelings as he tries to create meaning in the midst of the forces of the war around him. The author’s colorful descriptions of a few of his medical practice experiences at home and in West Africa will certainly raise the reader’s curiosity. His ancestors trace back to the Reformation, as he reflects on his own struggles to understand the Christianity he encountered from parents, country, and Americans when he moved to the US. His long, soul searching for religious meaning caused his involvement with a liberal church. The openness and critical thinking of that religion served his questioning mind well.

Finally the narrative is full of personal details that most Americans could never imagine. This includes discovering the proper placement of straw into his wooden shoes, and how his mother saved Koning’s life from a belligerent Nazi SS officer by bribing him with a ham and a half bottle of gin.

This book causes readers to imagine how they would have reacted to events if they had been there. Overall, anyone interested in WWII will find this to be an excellent excursion into understanding how WWII affected a thoughtful young man.

reviewed by Gary Gustafson of Midwest Book Review ]

Here’s what some other reviewers are saying:

A nice piece of personal contemporary history from early twentieth century Holland (with some WWII drama, also). There are also medical observations from his years as an doctor in the African bush, and thoughtful views on comparative religion. Enlightening and fun as well.

– Amazon Reviewer Aaron Stafford

A personal opinion of the author and his life experiences: Dr Koning is a friend, and has very cogent opinions about the world, based upon his eighty plus years of life and experiences. His observations, in my experience, are keen and penetrating.

– Amazon Reviewer Scott Chester


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Saturday Book Review: “Super Mia and the Good Luck Duo – Rescued is the New Black”

Book reviews are a great way for self-publishing authors to gain exposure. After all, how can someone buy your book if he or she doesn’t know it exists? Paired with other elements of your book promotion strategy, requesting reviews is a great way to get people talking about what you’ve written.

When we read good reviews, we definitely like to share them. It gives the author a few (permanent) moments of fame and allows us to let the community know about a great book. Here’s this week’s book review, courtesy of Midwest Book Review:

super mia and the good luck duo - rescued is the new black by marie-yolaine williams

Super Mia and the Good Luck Duo – Rescued Is the New Black

by Marie-Yolaine Williams (author)
Richa Kinra (illustrator)

Publisher: Outskirts Press

ISBN: 9781478771579

Synopsis*:

Are black cats really bad luck? Are black dogs scarier than other dogs? When Baggins, a champion racing dog, is injured during a race, his owner callously dumps him in a wooded area. There, Baggins meets Evader, a black cat, and the two become fast friends. When the duo are captured by County Animal Services, Baggins discovers that he and Evader have little chance of being adopted because of their black fur. When the shelter’s manager takes a special interest in them, it looks like their luck may finally change for the better. Will Baggins and Evader find their forever home?

 * courtesy of Amazon.com

Critique:

Another outstanding collaboration by author Marie-Yolaine Williams and illustrator Richa Kinra, “Super Mia and the Good Luck Duo – Rescued Is the New Black” is another in their outstanding ‘Shelter Dog Series’ and very highly recommended for the picture book collections of families, elementary schools, and community libraries. For personal reading lists it should also be noted that “Super Mia and the Good Luck Duo – Rescued Is the New Black” is available in a paperback edition as well (9781478771579, $9.95)

reviewed on the Children’s Bookwatch of Midwest Book Review ]

Here’s what some other reviewers are saying:

Five stars all the way! We love this book! I’d say it’s for a 6-9 year old (if your 6 year old is a strong reader).

It’s so amazing to see that the hero who saves the day in the story is a person in a wheelchair. That is something we have never seen in a children’s book and I have to say it’s a breath of fresh air. What a wonderful message for children about inclusiveness! Heroes come in all different forms and it’s long overdue that we communicate this to children. It’s a great conversation starter about disability and illness too (the hero Mia has MS and explains she has good days and bad days – on bad days she needs her wheelchair). I don’t want to give away the ending but we love how it ends!

We learned about black dog syndrome, superstition (which has a negative impact on black cats and their chances at adoption), and the country of Greece. I also love that the author walked us through what happens when an animal is dumped somewhere from the animal’s point of view. I hope this makes people think twice before they discard a pet like thrash. It’s great that some of the proceeds are going to animal rescue.

The interview at the end (the author interviews her rescue dogs and they answer questions like what is your favorite movie or book etc.) really made us laugh.

I strongly recommend this book. It’s well written and a great story. More books like this please. This is part of a series, we have the first book already (we loved that one too) and can’t wait for the next one!

– Amazon Reviewer Amazon Customer

This is an enchanting story, and Mia is its princess! What an excellent book for all. I dearly love the title: “Super Mia and the Good Luck Duo, Rescued is the New Black”. Baggins was a greyhound who broke his leg racing. After the vet said he could race no longer, the owner dropped him off in some woods and left him (something he does often). A cat offered to help Baggins. When County Animal Services captured Baggins, Evader came out of hiding to be with him. It only gets better and better from here.

Both Baggins and Evader have black fur. Marie-Yolaine Williams did a very good deed for cats and dogs by letting Evader announce,”we have a very slim chance of being adopted.” Ms. Williams correctly informs her readers. When Baggins asked why, he replied “Because we have black fur. People are scared of black dogs and think that black cats are bad luck”. My Grandma had that incorrect superstition.

I worked in a Humane Society who stopped adopting out black cats for several days before Halloween to protect them. I fostered and adopted two beauties, my two black cats that I love more than life itself. I won’t give away the ending of the story. It is excellent!

Thank you Marie-Yolaine Williams and Word Slinger for giving me a book to read in exchange for my honest review.

– Amazon Reviewer C M Anderson


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Saturday Book Review: “Old Dog, New Tricks”

Book reviews are a great way for self-publishing authors to gain exposure. After all, how can someone buy your book if he or she doesn’t know it exists? Paired with other elements of your book promotion strategy, requesting reviews is a great way to get people talking about what you’ve written.

When we read good reviews, we definitely like to share them. It gives the author a few (permanent) moments of fame and allows us to let the community know about a great book. Here’s this week’s book review, courtesy of Midwest Book Review:

Old Dog, New Tricks: The Story of an Old Shelter Dog Who Got a Second Chance marie yolaine williams

Old Dog, New Tricks:
The Story of an Old Shelter Dog Who Got a Second Chance

by Marie-Yolaine Williams (author)
Richa Kinra (illustrator)

Publisher: Outskirts Press

ISBN: 9781478765332

Synopsis*:

Who Says Old Dogs Can’t Learn New Tricks? Boscoe is an 11-year-old dog who suddenly finds himself at a shelter competing with puppies for potential adopters. When a family finally comes in looking for an older dog, Boscoe can’t believe his ears! Will he find his forever home?

 * courtesy of Amazon.com

Critique:

Who says old dogs can’t learn new tricks? Deftly written by Marie-Yolaine Williams and charmingly illustrated by Richa Kinra, “Old Dog, New Tricks: The Story of an Old Shelter Dog Who Got a Second Chance” is the story of Boscoe, an 11-year-old dog who suddenly finds himself at a shelter competing with puppies for potential adopters. When a family finally comes in looking for an older dog, Boscoe can’t believe his ears! Will he find his forever home? Highly recommended, especially for children ages 6 to 9, “Old Dog, New Tricks” will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to family, elementary school, and community library picture book collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that “Old Dog, New Tricks” is also available in a paperback edition (9781478761631, $14.95).

reviewed on the Children’s Bookshelf of Midwest Book Review ]

Here’s what some other reviewers are saying:

I love reading this book to my children. It is refreshing to see such diversity in this book. It was heartwarming to read a story about a rescue dog getting another chance. I can not wait to read the more from this author.

Top Ten Reasons I Love This Book and Have Read It Over and Over Again!

I could have done more reasons, but I’m a Dave Letterman fan and I know everyone is pressed for time. Here goes!

10) The writer doesn’t talk down to the audience. If you read a lot of children’s books like we do, you know what I’m talking about;

9) The story is compelling and well written;

8) The book promotes the values we should be instilling in our children. I’m talking about compassion, love, loyalty, a love of learning and reading, and treating animals with respect.

7) There is real diversity in the book, not just background diversity. How refreshing to see a mixed race family in a children’s book;

6) The book teaches how to calculate dog years and that we never stop learning, no matter how advanced in age we are;

5) The illustrations are striking and the whole time I read it I thought to myself this book would also make a great movie;

4) The How You Can Help section at the end of the book supports parents who are not ready for a dog (if now is not the right time for a pet in the house there are so many ways you can help shelter animals) Brilliant!

3) The About the Author’s Senior Dogs Section is adorable. The writer even lists her old dog’s favorite CDs (we love Seth MacFarlane too);

2) The writer discusses loss and the plight of shelter animals in a way that is easy to understand, but still gives everyone hope that we can give these so called undesired pets a second chance at love;

1) Some of the profits will go to shelter animals, and that in itself is reason enough to give it five stars.

The truth is, I would take all the stars in the universe and give them to this book. This book has transformed me into a dog lover!

– Amazon Reviewer Amazon Customer

This book is an instant classic. This book is good on so many levels and reading to my son he absolutely hangs on the reality of the situation at the same time the metaphors on life are not lost on the reader, while the story’s poingency is felt by both. We read stories every night to both of our children and this one has displaced some old standbys (ironic?).

The levels that the writer reaches is rare. In the first respect, you have the story. In the second, you have the writer’s story with her dogs. Finally, you have the respect on how to rescue a dog or contribute.

We are a couple of years away from our first canine addition to our family, but with the help of this well written and beautifully illustrated book I know that my sons already have an appreciation for their future friends.

Speaking of future friends, I can’t wait for the next book in this series to come out. These books will make a wonderful addition to our library and will make a great gift for a lot of our friends.

I give this book my highest recommendation. Great for family reading time.

– Amazon Reviewer Clayton III


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Saturday Book Review: “The Conversations We Never Had”

Book reviews are a great way for self-publishing authors to gain exposure. After all, how can someone buy your book if he or she doesn’t know it exists? Paired with other elements of your book promotion strategy, requesting reviews is a great way to get people talking about what you’ve written.

When we read good reviews, we definitely like to share them. It gives the author a few (permanent) moments of fame and allows us to let the community know about a great book. Here’s this week’s book review, courtesy of Midwest Book Review:

the conversations we never had jeffrey konis

The Conversations We Never Had

by Jeffrey H. Konis

Publisher: Outskirts Press

ISBN: 9781478767299

Synopsis*:

This is the dream of a grandson, who had taken his grandmother for granted, to have a second chance, the opportunity to learn about his family from the only person in the world who knew them, who remembered them. My father remembers nothing about his real parents for they were dead by the time he was nine. Olga, his mother’s younger sister, survived the Holocaust, found my father hiding on a farm in Poland and later brought him to America to raise as her own. He never asked her any questions about his parents. Though I later moved in with Olga for a period of time, I repeated history and never asked her the questions my father never asked. Olga has been gone for more than twenty years, along with everything she could have told me, leaving me with a sense of guilt and profound regret. The Conversations We Never Had is a chronicle of my time spent with Grandma “Ola” and tells the stories she might have shared had I asked the questions.

 * courtesy of Amazon.com

Critique:

The Conversations We Never Had is about the regrets of a son who wishes he’d probed more of his family history while its elders were still able to tell him about the past; but it doesn’t end with the burial of his Grandmother Olga, the last person to have known his father’s Holocaust experiences in Europe.

Instead, it blossoms into an investigation of what was, a realization of what could have been, and a family history that incorporates not only conversations made; but those which should have taken place.

How did the family matriarch make the kinds of decisions that would allow her family to survive, adopting and bringing her nephew (the author’s father) to a new country? How did his father survive under impossible conditions, and how did she find him after the war to bring him to a new life? The author’s regrets of not asking the right questions, only to piece together truths from a patchwork of possibilities decades later, is wonderfully portrayed: “Grandma Ola was the only person in the world who could give me some insight into my father, what he was like as a child, a son – to an extent – as a student, though I knew he must have been exceptional in this regard, given that he overcame a language barrier, simultaneously learning English and the sciences, among his other courses; he did this successfully enough to go to medical school. And yet I never had an in-depth conversation with Grandma about my dad and, for the life of me, I have no idea why I didn’t. At least I could, and did, ask my father these questions as I navigated my way through the biased nature of his responses, to get as much truth as possible.”

Many Holocaust family stories come from the horse’s mouth in the form of reminiscences of parents and grandparents translated through the memories and notes of their descendants. Jeffrey H. Konis adds a new twist to this approach in covering not only the conversations that took place; but those which were unsaid.

As he surveys issues of Jewish livelihood and independence (among many other subjects), Konis comes to realize the forces that shaped and led to his career and life choices, and brings readers into a world enlightened by these discussions of Jewish heritage past and how they were passed down and, in turn, translated into life decisions made by future generations.

The precise links between these translations and applications past to present are enhanced by the author’s introspective assessments of what is presented to him, and what it means for his own life: “If I couldn’t find a Jewish girl to marry, the selection would be greatly enhanced were I to allow myself to marry someone who converted. But what about everything Grandma was just telling me, that even one who has converted is still not the same as one who was brought up Jewish? It made me think of something my dad once said about Grandma Ola. He told me that, yes, she had raised him like a son, but she wasn’t his mother. He said it wasn’t the same.”

The result is more than another Holocaust survival story: it’s a perceptive and examining survey of how ideals, thoughts, traditions and culture are handed down in families, surveying the types of questions asked and those left unsaid, and their impact.

Readers of Holocaust literature and biography will find themselves drawn to the family and personalities surrounding Jeffrey H. Konis and will be particularly delighted to understand how Jewish traditions and family messages helped him shape his own decision-making process.

reviewed by Diane C. Donovan of Midwest Book Review ]

Here’s what some other reviewers are saying:

Jeffrey Konis’ book “The Conversations We Never Had” was a beautiful reflection of a man’s relationship with his ailing grandmother’s sister, who acted as his grandmother throughout his life. Over many conversations, Konis was able to tease out memories of her life and upbringing in pre-WW2 Germany, as the spectre of Nazism started to overtake Germany, with all of the horrors that entailed. These stories helped Jeffrey better understand his grandmother and her sister, as well as his father’s temperament, which was enlightening. “The Conversations We Never Had” highlights the importance of talking with our elders before it is too late, to gain some of their wisdom and to hear the stories which shaped their lives and personalities. It was a lovely tribute to Konis’ forebears, and I would love to read it again.

– Amazon Reviewer Janelle Collins

They were of a generation that longed to forget, that shied away from discussing the horrors inflicted upon their people, and hardly, if ever, voluntarily offered up stories around the Sunday dinner table.Talking about such a painful time brought back the pain. So it is no wonder that Konis’ grandmother, Ola, pushed on with her life, loved her family and chose to live for the day and remain silent on her past and how the Holocaust tore her family apart. Inevitably, though, the author comes to realize and deeply regret the missed opportunity to have those telling conversations about the Holocaust with Ola when she passes away. Konis, however, bases many of the conversations in the book on fact, having a vital resource in his father, who was 9 years old when the Nazis invaded his town. It is a fascinating read and I was quickly drawn in by his depiction of Ola’s youth, her sister and her father. The book certainly makes one stop and think and regret those lost opportunities and conversations with our elders.

– Amazon Reviewer Pamela J.


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