My Sister’s Mother by Donna Solecka Urbikas

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FTC: I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review. I received no other compensation and the opinions expressed in this review are one hundred percent true and my own.

My Sister’s Mother by Donna Solecka Urbikas was a fantastic book.  From the first page of this book right through the end, I was in love with this book and this author.  I love that is about real people and what they went through during WWII and the aftermath of it all.  I also liked how she went back and forth between when the author was growing up and when her mother and sister were going through during the war.

There was one sentence that stuck out to me and still sticks out me now.  I am going to share that right here because I think it is something that most people could relate to.  “Just as the last weeks of pregnancy make life so unbearable that a woman rushes joyfully into the pain of labor and delivery, so do the last weeks of life in old age prepare one for death.”  What do you think of this statement?

I love most books that have something to do with WWII, but this book was so different from others that I have read over the years.  I have to say that this book might be my favorite because I felt like I really connected with the characters. The authors writing all spoke to me and I was sad when the book was over because I missed the characters.  If you love WWII books and also like real stories, then I think you will enjoy this book as much as I do.

About The Book

Donna Solecka Urbikas grew up in the Midwest during the golden years of the American century. But her Polish-born mother and half sister had endured dehumanizing conditions during World War II, as slave laborers in Siberia. War and exile created a profound bond between mother and older daughter, one that Donna would struggle to find with either of them.
In 1940, Janina Slarzynska and her five-year-old daughter Mira were taken by Soviet secret police (NKVD) from their small family farm in eastern Poland and sent to Siberia with hundreds of thousands of others. So began their odyssey of hunger, disease, cunning survival, desperate escape across a continent, and new love amidst terrible circumstances.
But in the 1950s, baby boomer Donna yearns for a “normal” American family while Janina and Mira are haunted by the past. In this unforgettable memoir, Donna recounts her family history and her own survivor’s story, finally understanding the damaged mother who had saved her sister.

Finalist, Best Traditional Non-Fiction Book, Chicago Writers Association

About The Author

Donna Solecka Urbikas was born in Coventry, England, and immigrated with her parents and sister to Chicago in 1952. After careers as a high school science teacher and environmental engineer, she is now a writer, realtor, and community volunteer. She lives in Chicago with her husband.

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Of The Grid by Randy Denmon

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FTC: I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review. I received no other compensation and the opinions expressed in this review are one hundred percent true and my own.

Off The Grid by Randy Denmon was such an interesting book.  I loved reading this book because you have no idea what is going to happen next, but you do know that they survived the trip because he wrote the book.  This was a super easy read which I loved because it meant that I didn’t to know a ton about electric cars or things like that.   Some books like this tend to be super annoying, but this book kept me interested throughout the entire thing.  I really enjoyed the authors writing and all of the stories that he included in this book.  Like I said it was an easy read and I was able to read it in a few days.  If you are looking for a fun book to read this summer, I would recommend this book to you.

About The Book

The rollicking tale of a first-of-its-kind adventure—driving a Tesla through Central America.

Only a week after the nation’s newspapers were filled with headlines of the first cross-country trip in an electric car, two Louisianans slip quietly across the Rio Grande in south Texas in an attempt to do the unthinkable—drive a factory electric car across seven Third World countries to the “end of the road,” Panama City, Panama.

Without support and armed only with a toolbox, a bag of electrical adapters, and their wits, author Randy Denmon and his friend Dean trudge on through jungles, deserts, volcanoes, rivers, and crater-sized potholes, all the while trying to avoid the drug cartels and corrupt border guards that could mean a quick end to their adventure . . . and their lives. Through it all, the same enormous problem loomed daily: how to charge the car in such a primitive and desolate setting?

Despite the numerous setbacks, Randy never lost his sense of humor. Off the Grid is as much a spiritual journey as a physical one about two guys who dropped everything for one grand twenty-first-century adventure—traveling back in time in a car that seemed to come from the future.

About The Author

Randy Denmon is a writer and engineer. His novels and nonfiction have won the Western Writers of America Spur Award, the Faulkner-Wisdom Award, and he has been a finalist for the Ben Franklin Award. A lifelong Louisiana resident, he currently resides in Monroe, LA. When not writing, he is a practicing Civil Engineer.

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Fighter Pilot’s Daughter by Mary Lawlor

 

FTC: I received a free copy of this book from PUYB in exchange for my honest review. I received no other compensation and the opinions expressed in this review are one hundred percent true and my own.

Fighter Pilot’s Daughter by Mary Lawlor was a book I was never able to get into.  I always try and find good things about books that I am reading, and it is rare for me to just not like anything about books.  I can always seem to find something that I enjoyed about the book, but this time I really didn’t enjoy this book.  I found that I was bored throughout most of the book.  I had a really hard time finishing this book because I was so bored with it.  I kept thinking while I was reading it was that it reminded me of a book that I would have read in high school.  That is really all I can say about this book because like I said I didn’t like it.  I am sure there are people who would really enjoy this book I just wasn’t one of them.

About The Book

FIGHTER PILOT’S DAUGHTER: GROWING UP IN THE SIXTIES AND THE COLD WAR tells the story of the author as a young woman coming of age in an Irish Catholic, military family during the Cold War.  Her father, an aviator in the Marines and later the Army, was transferred more than a dozen times to posts from Miami to California and Germany as the government’s Cold War policies demanded.  For the pilot’s wife and daughters, each move meant a complete upheaval of ordinary life.  The car was sold, bank accounts closed, and of course one school after another was left behind.  Friends and later boyfriends lined up in memory as a series of temporary attachments.  The book describes the dramas of this traveling household during the middle years of the Cold War.  In the process, FIGHTER PILOT’S DAUGHTER shows how the larger turmoil of American foreign policy and the effects of Cold War politics permeated the domestic universe. The climactic moment of the story takes place in the spring of 1968, when the author’s father was stationed in Vietnam and she was attending college in Paris.  Having left the family’s quarters in Heidelberg, Germany the previous fall, she was still an ingénue; but her strict upbringing had not gone deep enough to keep her anchored to her parents’ world.  When the May riots broke out in the Latin quarter, she attached myself to the student leftists and American draft resisters who were throwing cobblestones at the French police. Getting word of her activities via a Red Cross telegram delivered on the airfield in Da Nang, Vietnam, her father came to Paris to find her. The book narrates their dramatically contentious meeting and return to the American military community of Heidelberg.  The book concludes many years later, as the Cold War came to a close.  After decades of tension that made communication all but impossible, the author and her father reunited.  As the chill subsided in the world at large, so it did in the relationship between the pilot and his daughter. When he died a few years later, the hard edge between them, like the Cold War stand-off, had become a distant memory.

About The Author

Mary Lawlor grew up in an Army family during the Cold War.  Her father was a decorated fighter pilot who fought in the Pacific during World War II, flew missions in Korea, and did two combat tours in Vietnam. His family followed him from base to base and country to country during his years of service. Every two or three years, Mary, her three sisters, and her mother packed up their household and moved. By the time she graduated from high school, she had attended fourteen different schools. These displacements, plus her father?s frequent absences and brief, dramatic returns, were part of the fabric of her childhood, as were the rituals of base life and the adventures of life abroad.

As Mary came of age, tensions between the patriotic, Catholic culture of her upbringing and the values of the sixties counterculture set family life on fire.  While attending the American College in Paris, she became involved in the famous student uprisings of May 1968.  Facing her father, then posted in Vietnam, across a deep political divide, she fought as he had taught her to for a way of life completely different from his and her mother’s.

Years of turbulence followed.  After working in Germany, Spain and Japan, Mary went on to graduate school at NYU, earned a Ph.D. and became a professor of literature and American Studies at Muhlenberg College.  She has published three books, Recalling the Wild (Rutgers UP, 2000), Public Native America (Rutgers UP, 2006), and most recently Fighter Pilot’s Daughter: Growing Up in the Sixties and the Cold War (Rowman and Littlefield, September 2013).

She and her husband spend part of each year on a small farm in the mountains of southern Spain.

Her latest book is the memoir, Fighter Pilot’s Daughter: Growing Up in the Sixties and the Cold War.

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My (Underground) American Dream by Julissa Arce

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FTC: I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. I received no other compensation and the opinions expressed in this review are one hundred percent true and my own.

My (Underground) American Dream by Julissa Arce was an amazing book. When I saw that this book was available for me to review I knew I had to pick it up because I have always wondered about the children that grow up like this. I really enjoyed this book because it was a true story and I love books that really happened. I found it easier for me to get into this book because it was true and I knew that everything really happened. I also loved getting a different view of what it is like to live in the United States. I had a rough childhood but I know I had it better than most people do in this country. I loved everything about this book because it was written well enough that I understood and felt like I was there with the author. If you love memoirs than I know you will love this book as much as I did.

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About The Book

For an undocumented immigrant, what is the true cost of the American Dream? Julissa Arce shares her story in a riveting memoir.

When she was 11 years old, Julissa Arce left Mexico and came to the United States on a tourist visa to be reunited with her parents, who dreamed the journey would secure her a better life. When her visa expired at the age of 15, she became an undocumented immigrant. Thus began her underground existence, a decade’s long game of cat and mouse, tremendous family sacrifice, and fear of exposure. After the Texas Dream Act had made a college degree possible, Julissa’s top grades and leadership positions landed her an internship at Goldman Sachs, which led to a full-time position–one of the most coveted jobs on Wall Street. Soon she was a Vice President, a rare Hispanic woman in a sea of suits and ties, yet still guarding her “underground” secret. In telling her personal story of separation, grief, and ultimate redemption, Arce shifts the immigrant conversation and changes the perception of what it means to be an undocumented immigrant.

julissa-arce

About The Author

Julissa Arce is the author of “My (Underground) American Dream.” She is an emerging and leading voice in the fight for immigrant rights and education equality. She is the chairman and co-founder of the Ascend Educational Fund (AEF). AEF is a college scholarship and mentorship program for immigrant students in New York City, regardless of their ethnicity, national original or immigration status. She made national and international headlines when she revealed that she had achieved the American Dream of wealth and status at Goldman Sachs while undocumented. Julissa will use her inspirational story to change the conversation around immigration in MY (UNDERGROUND) AMERICAN DREAM. The book explores the polarizing question: for an undocumented immigrant, what is the true cost of the American dream?

In the heady days of the most astronomical stock-market rise in Wall Street history, Julissa Arce climbed the corporate ladder—a rare Hispanic woman in a sea of suits and ties. In 2005, against all the odds, she landed one of the most coveted jobs as an analyst at Goldman Sachs. Over the course of the next six years, even while the financial markets crashed, she continued to climb the corporate ladder—riding a series of promotions to become a Vice President, complete with a high six-figure salary and all of the perks that come with living the Goldman Sachs life. What none of her colleagues knew was that she wasn’t just a young woman who broke through ceilings in a cutthroat male-dominated field: she was also an undocumented American from Mexico.

Arce now uses her success and platform to help shift the conversation around immigration and other social justice issues. Arce often gives talks at events such as TEDx and the Forbes Reinventing America Summit (alongside Nancy Pelosi, Jessica Alba, and Gayle King), and has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, NPR, Al Jazeera America, Telemundo, Bloomberg TV and Univision. Her writing has been published on Huffington Post, Fusion, CNN en Español, The Hill, and Univision. She serves on the board of directors of the National Immigration Law Center and CollegeSpring. She was officially sworn in as an American citizen in August of 2014 and will vote in a presidential election for the first time in 2016.

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Scapegoat by Emilio Corsetti III

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FTC: I received a free copy of this book from Pump Up Your Book in exchange for my honest review. I received no other compensation and the opinions expressed in this review are one hundred percent true and my own.

Scapegoat by Emilio Corsetti III was such an interesting book. He went into such detail in this book that the thought of my getting on a plane and going someone where isn’t something I want to do now. I loved all the details though because I really felt like I understood what everyone was feeling and why the crew made the choices that they made in the moment. Like I said now that I have read this book I don’t know that I will be able to get on a plane without having a panic attack. I love that the author gives you all the information and then lets you figure out what you think about everything that happened. I love that he doesn’t talk about what he thinks happened. I really loved this book but it did take quite a while to read because it is a really big book and the font isn’t the biggest. If you love books about true stories than I would say check this book out because it was a great book.

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About The Book

“This is the kind of case the Board has never had to deal with-a head-on collision between the credibility of a flight crew versus the airworthiness of the aircraft.” NTSB Investigator-in-Charge Leslie Dean Kampschror

On April 4, 1979, a Boeing 727 with 82 passengers and a crew of 7 rolled over and plummeted from an altitude of 39,000 feet to within seconds of crashing were it not for the crew’s actions to save the plane. The cause of the unexplained dive was the subject of one of the longest NTSB investigations at that time.

While the crew’s efforts to save TWA 841 were initially hailed as heroic, that all changed when safety inspectors found twenty-one minutes of the thirty-minute cockpit voice recorder tape blank. The captain of the flight, Harvey “Hoot” Gibson, subsequently came under suspicion for deliberately erasing the tape in an effort to hide incriminating evidence. The voice recorder was never evaluated for any deficiencies.

From that moment on, the investigation was focused on the crew to the exclusion of all other evidence. It was an investigation based on rumors, innuendos, and speculation. Eventually the NTSB, despite sworn testimony to the contrary, blamed the crew for the incident by having improperly manipulated the controls, leading to the dive.

This is the story of an NTSB investigation gone awry and one pilot’s decades-long battle to clear his name.

Emilio Corsetti III

About The Author

Emilio Corsetti III is a professional pilot and author. Emilio has written for both regional and national publications including the Chicago Tribune, Multimedia Producer, and Professional Pilot magazine. Emilio is the author of the book 35 Miles From Shore: The Ditching and Rescue of ALM Flight 980. The upcoming book Scapegoat: A Flight Crew’s Journey from Heroes to Villains to Redemption tells the true story of an airline crew wrongly blamed for causing a near-fatal accident and the captain’s decades-long battle to clear his name. Emilio is a graduate of St. Louis University. He and his wife Lynn reside in Dallas, TX.

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