American Shoes: A Refugee's Story. Rosemarie Lengsfeld Turke and Garrett L. Turke. 2022. [February] 352 pages. [Source: Library]. First sentence: I was raised with the belief that life gives us a blank canvas on which to paint our lives. Premise/plot: ...
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"Becky's Book Reviews" - 5 new articles

  1. 60. American Shoes: A Refugee's Story
  2. 59. Queen of The Tiles
  3. 58. Inheritance (American Royals 0.5)
  4. 57. Death on a Deadline
  5. 56. Front Page Murder
  6. More Recent Articles

60. American Shoes: A Refugee's Story

American Shoes: A Refugee's Story. Rosemarie Lengsfeld Turke and Garrett L. Turke. 2022. [February] 352 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: I was raised with the belief that life gives us a blank canvas on which to paint our lives.

Premise/plot: American Shoes is based on the author's own memories. Rosemarie (aka Rosel) was born in the United States of America to German parents. A family trip to Germany to visit grandparents--an ailing grandfather--has unintended consequences. This trip happened when Rosel was a young girl--four? five? six?--the family found themselves unable to leave the country. Though not Jewish, the family clearly faces some hardship in Nazi Germany. 

This story is not told in a linear manner. The framework of the story is Rosel as a teen girl--15, I believe--leaving Germany on her own. Her parents (and younger sister) having German citizenship and not American citizenship--are unable to get permission to re-enter the United States of America. As an American, Rosel has the ability to leave the country and return to her place of birth. She'll be one of many refugees on their way to the U.S.A. 

The "chapters" of the book chronicle her time on the ship AND include her flashbacks (often tied to specific nightmares). Her past is slowly revealed, perhaps unevenly revealed. Much of the book focuses on her mingling with other refugees and her experiences of preparing to begin a new life. Rightly so, she--and just about every single person she is meeting and talking with--are dealing with a LOT of baggage from the war. (PTSD) 

My thoughts: The book is based on the author's memories. I'm honestly not sure if this book is categorized as fiction (but based on a true story) or a memoir (straight up nonfiction). She is recounting memories from when she was very young. These are strong impressions she is sharing. It seems completely inappropriate to nitpick literary style or narrative because of the subject matter.

History matters. Voices matter. Her story is worth reading--especially if you read books set during this time period. Not every reader seeks out books about World War II. It can be a sensitive subject, a triggering subject. 


© 2022 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


59. Queen of The Tiles

Queen of the Tiles. Hanna Alkaf. 2022. 320 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: When Trina Low walks by, the world holds its breath.

Premise/plot: Najwa Bakri, our heroine, is returning to the world of competitive scrabble a year after the death of her best friend (and social media star) Trina Low. It's been one year since her friend literally dropped dead mid-game in competition. The experience was so traumatic that Najwa still can't remember exactly what happened that day; she's blocked it out. But when her dead friend's Instagram account starts posting again the weekend of competition, well, it's spooky and weird. Najwa and her frenemies (and a few legitimate friends) work together--or seemingly so--to solve the mystery of Trina's death. Is there a killer among them? Or was her death an accident?

My thoughts: Queen of the Tiles is a YA mystery. The list of suspects is long. I think the quicker a reader can speed through this one, the better it will be to become immersed in the story and go with the flow. Some characters blend together; others stand out. But beware red herrings!

There is a LOT of Scrabble talk--playing, planning, strategizing, etc. Each chapter starts with an [obscure] word and its [possible] points when played. 

I can see this appealing to some readers, but not all readers.


© 2022 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


58. Inheritance (American Royals 0.5)

Inheritance: American Royals Prequel. Katharine McGee. May 2022. 84 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Royals: they're just like us. You don't actually believe such an absurdity do you? It's just a myth that tabloids use to sell magazines--accompanied by photos of the Washington twins shooting pool at a dive bar, or of Princess Louise of France blowing on the polish of her fresh manicure. Surely you realize that those photos are staged.

Inheritance is a prequel novella. It covers the events of ONE night. This one significant, life-altering night has been referred to in countless flashbacks in the first two books. Beatrice, the heir apparent, is at a royal function. Sam(antha) and her twin brother, Jeff, are "home alone" (aka without their parents) celebrating their high school graduation. Of course, they are anything but home alone. They are hosting a huge party where a lot of drama happens. Daphne. Nina. Ethan. Liam. Sam. Jeff. These are among the guests that night. Beatrice is the odd one out--as she so often is--and she's entangled (a bit) with a guard, Connor.

Is it worth reading? Yes or no.

Yes, if you are looking to refresh your memory before the third book releases later this year. You can in a relative short number of pages be reminded of the main characters--their names, their motives, some of their drama. 

Yes, if you can get it from the library. 

No, if you have to spend your own money to buy it. There is nothing new (really) revealed in this prequel that hasn't been touched on or hinted at in the flashbacks. A few details of the greater, wider world might be presented. Then again, it could just be that those details were of so little importance, so insignificant that they were easily forgotten in flashbacks. But my guess is some of the world's details are being slightly fleshed out in this prequel. These details are being placed because they will be of importance in the third book.


© 2022 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


57. Death on a Deadline

Death on a Deadline (Homefront News #2) Joyce St. Anthony. 2022. [November] 304 pages (guess). [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: "Clark Gable is coming to Progress and will be appearing at our war bond drive," Ava Dempsey said. "I have it on good authority."

Premise/plot: Irene Ingram is back for a second adventure in Death on a Deadline. In this murder mystery, the town is getting ready to have a fair, and not just any fair, a fair combined with a war bond drive. Several "stars" from Hollywood will be coming for the multi-day event. But not all the stars will be leaving town with a pulse. Is the murderer one of the town's own??? Or is it one of the other Hollywood stars? (Or "stars" as the case may be.) Irene finds herself right in the middle of another mystery... working side by side with her future father-in-law the chief of police.

My thoughts: I really LOVED both books. I love the small town setting. I love getting to know all the residents of the town. I love the sense of community, sense of place, and sense of time. Both books are set in 1942. This second book being set in June/July of 1942. I would recommend the series if you enjoy war fiction, cozy mysteries, historical fiction, or books with strong character development.


© 2022 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


56. Front Page Murder

Front Page Murder. (A Homefront News Mystery #1) Joyce St. Anthony. 2022. [March] 304 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Pop taught me a lot about the newspaper business. Unfortunately, he neglected to tell me the sentence I'd hear most often was That's not how your father would do it.

Premise/plot: Irene Ingram has taken over her father's newspaper business, the Progress Herald. It's a small town; the news is usually equally small. But a series of small-time crimes lead to the ultimate of the paper's own is murdered while working on a lead to a story. While the Chief of Police initially rules the death accidental, Irene becomes suspicious when she discovers a note on his desk. She decides--for better or worse--to work on the case (and the story) herself until she has enough proof to take it to the police. What she discovers is that not everyone in town is flag-waving, or, as the case may be waving the American flag...

My thoughts:  I really enjoyed this one. I did. I loved the setting--small town America during the second world war. I enjoyed getting to know the characters. I love that we get a feel for her life--not just as a detective on one specific case, but her actual life. It makes the story feel more genuine to know that she has grown up in this community, that she has friends, that she has a family that she loves dearly.

I liked that this one is well-peopled; there are plenty of suspects and plenty of clues. Perhaps here and there I got a wee bit confused keeping all the details straight. But I think that is more my fault than the author's fault. Perhaps if I'd read it in one sitting instead of three, I'd have had no trouble keeping track of all the town's residents. 

Would recommend to fans of mysteries AND fans of war fiction.


© 2022 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


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