Cheryl Bazzoui

“Shame, Shame, I Know Your Name” is the second thriller in the Marina Konyeshna series by Heather Harlen. Human trafficking remains the driving force behind the plot in this book as well. Its fast-paced dialogue and action kept me turning the pages. Marina’s irrepressible personality makes her a highly likable protagonist. Her fresh inner dialogue, utilizing her innate wit and intelligence, provides readers with suspense, danger and drama in Moscow’s soup kitchens to its night clubs.

BookMark: "Mom, Mania, and Me" By Diane Dweller

Jul 13, 2017

Diane Dweller’s “Mom, Mania, and Me: Surviving and Changing a Volatile Relationship” is a powerful memoir. Most of us realize life is hard for those who suffer with mental illness. This is a much needed book to help us understand the effects mental illness has on families. The author illustrates the devastating effect of her mother’s bipolar episodes on her family.  Dweller’s first person account is written like a fast paced novel, starting with the riveting prologue. She shows us how she becomes the scapegoat for her mother’s many frustrations.

“Time to Heal” is the latest in a time travel series of historical novels for middle schoolers. The author, Todd McClimans, is also an elementary school principal in York, Pennsylvania. In this third book of his American Epochs series, Kristi travels back through time to the battle fields and make-shift hospitals of the Civil War to find her friend Ty.  

In her debut novel, “To the Stars Through Difficulties,” Romalyn Tilghman weaves parallel stories into a suspenseful novel. The historical part delves into the building of the Carnegie Libraries in Kansas. The fund-raising efforts of the Kansas frontier women are well-researched and poignant. The present day part of the novel follows the struggles of three women from totally different socioeconomic and geographic backgrounds. Fate seems to bring Traci from New York City, Angelina from Philadelphia, and Gayle from nearby Prairie Hill - together in New Hope, Kansas.

BookMark: "Hope You Guess My Name" By Heather Harlen

Oct 20, 2016

Heather Harlen’s debut novel, Hope You Guess My Name, is a thriller that will make readers wonder what’s behind the veneers of their own communities. Marina Konyeshna, the book’s main character, is threatened after she discovers a human trafficking ring in her hometown in Eastern Pennsylvania.

BookMark: "Tipping Point" By David Poyer

Aug 25, 2016

Tipping Point is a page turner. It is the fifteenth novel in David Poyer’s acclaimed series of naval adventures featuring Captain Dan Lenson. But don’t worry if you don’t know anything about the modern Navy or haven’t read any of the first fourteen novels. This was my first of Lenson’s books, but I found it easy to follow the story. Tipping Point gives me renewed respect for our military personnel. The risks they take daily would be unnerving to most civilians.

BookMark: "All Waiting Is Long" By Barbara J. Taylor

Jun 30, 2016

Barbara J. Taylor has created another suspenseful page-turner. We first met the Morgan sisters two years ago in Taylor’s debut novel, Sing in the Morning, Cry at Night.  All Waiting Is Long tells us their captivating story twenty years later in the 1930s. It is a historical novel that begins when 25-year-old Violet and her pregnant sister, 16-year-old Lily, leave Scranton, Pennsylvania, by train. They are moving to Philadelphia to live at the Good Shepherd Infant Asylum until after the birth of Lily’s baby.

BookMark: "Time Underground" By Todd McClimans

Dec 17, 2015
The cover of "Time Underground" and reviewer Cheryl Bazzoui
Overdue Books/Cheryl Bazzoui

Time Underground by Todd McClimans is an historical novel written for middle schoolers, but don’t let that stop you from experiencing this exciting, well-researched story. It’s an adventure that moves back and forth from present day to 1782.

Many towns in central and western Pennsylvania have at least one house still standing from the Underground Railroad. Ask any lifelong local historian and be prepared to listen. It happened 135 years ago. Some of our parents heard from their great grandparents about how desperate runaway slaves struggled to make their way to Canada.

As a coal miner’s granddaughter, the title of Marilyn Nesbit Wood’s memoir, The Day the Whistle Blew intrigued me. The subtitle is The Life and Death of the Stansbury Coal Camp, which is clear foreshadowing. Marilyn Nesbit Wood opens her soul and digs deep to write about her family’s experience with coal mining. The Day the Whistle Blew deals with family dynamics on almost every level. It also encompasses  poverty, work ethics, public education, the tight control of coal company towns, and the disparity of wealth between blue collar and white collar workers.

BookMark: "As the Wolf Loves Winter" by David Poyer

May 7, 2015

David Poyer’s As The Wolf Loves Winter is a thriller that reflects the author’s respect for the wilds of Pennsylvania. It’s set in the hills of western Pennsylvania, first plundered by trappers, then for timber, oil and gas. Wolves became extinct in this scarred natural habitat. Or did they?

When mangled frozen bodies are found in the woods, fear spreads through the small villages surrounded by the dark hills of Hemlock County. What terrible secret lies hidden in those woods? Would someone kill to keep it?

BookMark: Time Traitors by Todd McClimans

Aug 14, 2014
Time Traitor book cover and reviewer
Kate Lao Shaffner

Time Traitor is a historical novel written for middle schoolers, but don’t let that stop you from experiencing this exciting, well-researched story. It’s an adventure that moves back and forth from the present day to colonial times.

We meet the main characters right away. Kristi and Ty are misfit students at George Washington Prep, a fictitious exclusive boarding school in southwest Pennsylvania.

 

Barbara Taylor’s, Sing in the Morning, Cry at Night, is one of the most compelling books I’ve ever read. It’s a novel set in a Scranton, Pennsylvania coal mining community in 1913. As a coal miner’s granddaughter, this story resonated with me. I gained insight into what my grandfather’s life must have been like.  He died of lung cancer, the scourge of the mines, at age 52.