Annette's Picks

I got completely wrapped up in this story about women sent to an Australian penal colony on Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania)—something I knew almost nothing about. An unforgettably sensational read!


I would give this book a 10+ rating! Easily one of the best books I've read all year. The story about people evacuating East Prussia to escape advancing Russians at the end of WWII left me breathless!


A sentimental story of a Chinese-American's recollection of his childhood in 1942 Seattle and his friendship with a Japanese-American girl who gets sent to an internment camp in Idaho. It makes you think about how WWII affected our own U.S. citizens.


Hitler’s 1936 Olympics saw our “Boys in the Boat” row to victory. Now we get to learn about the “Fast Girls” on the U.S. track team who made history—specifically three women who had their own personal obstacles to hurdle before they reached the world’s stage. Gender discrimination, racism, ostracism, and a horrific accident all played against the financial squeeze of the Great Depression. A completely compelling read!


This is a truly special book—well-written, gripping, a little bit fairy tale, a lot of historical fiction. Three children find a harmonica which is sort of good luck charm that sees them through their predicaments and eventually strings these separate stories together likes notes on sheet music. Fantastic!


Sourdough success!! After following Cynthia Lair’s techniques and recipes I finally produced a soft and tasty sourdough bread! The book has a section on creating your starter if you don’t have one, and it has numerous sourdough recipes from flapjacks to the rustic sourdough boule I made, as well as yummy companion recipes. I’m so glad I got this book and can finally make great sourdough breads!


I love seeing the world through others' eyes and while it's highly unlikely that I'll ever make a grand biking and "spirit quest" like Jedidiah Jenkins did, it did awaken a wanderlust in me. This book is a powerful examination of Jedidiah's own personal journey as a gay man with Christian beliefs. I particularly enjoyed being able to review Jedidiah's entire trip on Instagram!


What a wonderful book about resilience and hope. A 12-year-old girl must deal not only with the hardships of the Great Depression, but also with the fact that her father has been in a terrible accident. Soon a mysterious dog leads her to someone else who needs her help, someone who inspires her to use the natural world around her to bring hope and healing to the people who have carved a spot in her heart. This book is a celebration of life through nature and a spunky heroine named Ellie.


Ooooh good! The mother-in-law was not a warm and fuzzy person. She was more of a blunt, cold fish and now she's dead. Did she end her own life or did someone decide to do it for her? This book toggles back and forth between the mother-in-law's point of view and the daughter-in-law's; past and present; and along the way reveals more about both.


Good! Good!! Good!!! This is a smart, tangled, and timely thriller! When a man goes missing on a vacation in Vietnam, his girlfriend is left to unravel his lies that unknowingly put her in serious danger. What do his lies really mean? How terrible could his secrets be? The answer, she’ll discover, is worse than she could possibly imagine! A fast read with a jaw-dropping, heart-pounding ending!


loved this story that made me feel like I just stepped off the train right into the heart of the Pink City of Jaipur, India. I got absorbed in this foreign country set in against a vibrant background of rich colors, foods, traditions, superstitions, the caste system, and of course beautiful henna patterns! I was also excited about the recipes and extra information about India at the end. It’s like a total India immersion kit—makes it all the more satisfying and unforgettable!


Big thumbs-up for These Is My Words. Sarah is a spirited and determined woman in the unfamiliar frontier and despite tragedies, there is hope and humor.


Such a good book! An unwanted girl with a crippled foot is sent away to the British countryside with her brother during WWII. There, she learns to trust again when she finds people who truly care about her. Great book about overcoming adversity and good introduction to one aspect of WWII.


This book exceeded all my expectations—an exceptional memoir! A woman cobbles together her father’s enigmatic past to build a clear picture of the progression of restrictions and brutality against Jews in WWII. An astounding revelation of anguish and grasps of hope.


This historical fiction (based on true events) brings to light the medical experiments conducted on the prisoners of Ravensbrück, the all-female concentration camp in WWII Germany. A completely unnerving yet engrossing read!


Another breathtaking book by the author of The Tattooist of Auschwitz. Based on true events, Cilka Klein survives 3 years in the notorious Auschwitz Concentration Camp during WWII and then, incredibly, goes from one nightmare to the next when the Russians accuse her of collaborating with the Germans and sentence her to 15 years of hard labor in a Siberian Gulag. Unimaginable! Unforgettable!


What a story! Based on true events, a young man in Italy leads Jews through the Alps to Switzerland during WWII. He later becomes a spy while working as a driver for a high-ranking German official. This book reads like an action-adventure. It’s a staggering portrayal of fortitude and heroism –with a nail-biting ending! Excellent.


A moving, well-written, important story that brings terrifying and heroic aspects of history to life. This is an absorbing read that alternates between 2 storylines: a Jewish boy who watches his world crumble when Hitler annexes Austria and a true-life Dutch heroine, Geertruida Wijsmuller, who puts her own life at risk over and over to transport children to the safety of London in the months leading to WWII. Very good book!


A monster book that is not so much creepy, but oh so funny!   I LOVED this book!  Although it’s marketed toward kids ages 8-12, ANYONE with a silly sense of humor will thoroughly enjoy it.   Keep this book in mind for a Christmas or birthday present, or just to make someone smile!


Kerry Winfrey had me at "Tom Hanks" and kept me going with her Nora Ephron rom-com-style story with over a dozen movie references. A fun, light-hearted escape!


I thoroughly enjoyed this book about women who made significant contributions to the world! The easily digestible, bite-size bios provide just enough information to discover what the selected ladies were famous (or infamous) for. It explores 100 women who were not necessarily bad, but definitely bad-ass. This is a book I will be passing on to my granddaughters so that they will know that they too have the power to do anything!


What a pleasant surprise to discover that Tom Hanks isn’t just a great actor, he’s a good writer, too! His prose is sharp, intelligent, polished and his stories run the gamut from funny to thought-provoking—with one head-scratcher thrown in the mix. I can almost hear Tom’s voice in each story, many of them seeming to correlate to his movies or life as an actor. Write, Tom, Write!


Who knew a book about a library fire could be so interesting? I do now.  Susan Orlean’s account of the Central Los Angeles Library fire of 1986 which destroyed or damaged more than a million books, continuously meanders from the investigation and arson suspect to other book paths then back to the investigation. Her descriptive and captivating writing kept me turning page after page. In the end this, book is sure to ignite an appreciation of all libraries whether you’re a regular patron or not.


Professor Don Tillman is a brilliant, analytical, tightly wound man who, unfortunately, is socially inept and believes the best way to find a life partner is by creating a scientific survey to weed out all but the perfect candidates. A wrench is thrown into the mission when he forms a friendship with the totally unsuitable Rosie and it leads to pure laugh-out-loud fun. This book is one of those rare finds where I fell in love with it from page one, and so did my book club!


This book immediately shot up my list of favorites. Set on Guernsey Island in the English Channel in 1946, a quirky cast of characters recall their time during the German Occupation of WWII. Written with warmth and humor in a series of letters we discover pig farmers, phrenologists, and survivors of the German occupation. It was a fun book that I seemed to smile my way through despite the sad subject matter and hardships. My book club gave it an emphatic thumbs-up, “a must read” in my opinion!

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