Author

Jennifer Blankfein

Jennifer Blankfein has 59 articles published.

Jennifer Gans Blankfein is a freelance marketing consultant and book reviewer. She graduated from Lehigh University with a Psychology degree and has a background in advertising. Her experience includes event coordination and fundraising along with editing a weekly, local, small business newsletter. Jennifer loves to talk about books, is an avid reader, and currently writes a book blog, Book Nation by Jen. She lives in Connecticut with her husband, two sons and black lab.

“From the Corner of the Oval:” A Job Landed by Craigslist

in Non-Fiction by

Beck Dorey-Stein is not unlike any young adult fresh out of school and focused on herself, her friends and her love life. Her boyfriend shenanigans and drinking escapades are typical and par for the course. But her job was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and captured in her memoir, From the Corner of the Oval.(Spiegel & Grau). Living in Washington and trying to make ends meet, she casually answers an ad for a job as a stenographer at a law firm on Craigslist. They follow up asking for a cover letter;  she refuses. They still bring her in for a test, and then a subsequent interview. She makes a halfhearted effort, but then regretting her course writes to apologize. She gets this…

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“The Sun Does Shine:” Hinton Stares Down Death Row

in Non-Fiction by

The Sun Does Shine (St. Martin’s Press) is a powerful and important memoir, showing a discouraging side of our legal system and an incredible testament of stamina and hope from one special individual Anthony Ray Hinton. In 1985, Anthony Ray Hinton was convicted of murder in Alabama and sentenced to the electric chair.  He was a 29-year-old, poor, black man who had a job, a happy disposition and was a devoted son to his loving mother.  The judicial system did not protect Hinton as it should have, and he chose not speak for the first three years of his incarceration. Rebelling in silence as he wavered between anger and despair, he anticipated being put to death in the electric chair, knowing…

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“His Favorites” Exposes Guilt and Vulnerability

in Fiction by

With sparse, lyrical language, author of His Favorites (Scribner), Kate Walbert, shines a light on women’s rights as she tells us about Jo’s tragic and unsettling experiences.  After being in a deadly accident at 15 years old with her best friends, Jo, a wild and now emotionally broken high school student is sent off to boarding school. Her life at home crumbled and her friendships broken, the new beginning for her life away at school held the strong potential of not going in the right direction.  Memories and stories weave together our understanding of who Jo is…and how an irresponsible female teenager, faced with tragedy and then coerced by a sweet talking man, may not possess the support needed to fight back…

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Baby Teeth Proves It’s Dangerous to Play Favorites

in Thrillers by

If you are in need of a blood chilling thriller to make your heart pound, Baby Teeth (St. Martin’s Press) is for you!  It is clear that author Zoje Stage mastered everything dark and suspenseful when she created Hanna, a seven year old, and the only child of Suzette and Alex.  Suzette had a difficult childhood, poor mothering and a continual battle with Crones Disease. When she meets Alex in a professional environment, he saves her from loneliness and despair by respecting her design work and falling in love.  Alex, an architect, is a cheery Swedish man who desperately loves his wife, Suzette, and showers his very bright but mute daughter Hanna with love and attention.  Both parents want to be…

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This Month’s Pick: Jesmyn Ward’s “Sing, Unburied, Sing”

in Girly Book Club by

For the month of September, all chapters of the Girly Book Club are reading Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Buried, Sing (Scribner). Here’s the review that BookTrib filed shortly after the title was published late last year: Sing, Unburied, Sing is a beautifully written, character-driven, heartfelt novel that takes place in the steamy Mississippi Gulf Coast. The story is about a young black girl, Leonie, who has two children: Jojo 13, and Kayla, a toddler. The children’s father, Michael, is white and in prison. Michael’s family is hopelessly racist and rejects Leonie and the children, so they live with Leonie’s parents. Leonie is a drug addict and she is rarely around, so Mam and Pop have stepped in to raise the kids.…

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Impact On Countries & Time: Joan Silber’s “Improvement”

in Fiction by

Connecting 1970s Turkey and New York today, 72-year-old author Joan Silber, winner of the 2018 Pen/Faulkner Award for Fiction, weaves a tapestry of interpersonal connections and shows how relationships bind us together and decisions have widespread impact across countries and over time in her latest novel, Improvement (Amazon Digital Services). Reyna is a single mother living in Harlem and standing by her not-so-perfect boyfriend, Boyd, as she visits him during his three-month incarceration at Riker’s. Her Aunt Kiki lives in the Village after spending some time in Turkey and traveling the world in her younger days.  Kiki worries about Reyna and her young son Oliver and is unaware of the illegal activities Boyd, Reyna and their friends are involved with. When…

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Multiple Themes for Rabbi’s Scribe In “The Weight Of Ink”

in Fiction by

The Weight Of Ink (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) by Rachel Kadish tells the story of Ester Velasquez, an emigrant from Amsterdam who becomes a scribe for a blind rabbi in London in the 1600s right before the plague.  At the same time we learn about Helen Watt, a close-to-retiring British historian working on translations of some 17th century documents signed by scribe “Aleph.” Even though these women lived in different centuries, both were strong and determined to pursue their interests, fought to be heard, and chose a life to satisfy their minds with sacrifice of the heart. Ester is a product of the Portuguese Inquisition, and although displaced with little family, she feels at home with her job as a scribe for…

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“The Lost Family” Covers Marriage and Love Post-WWII

in Fiction by

Jenna Blum, author of the bestseller Those Who Save Us, is back with another novel, one that is equally heartbreaking and haunting. Covering topics of grief and love, Blum artfully and skillfully reminds us that the past never seems to stay there, and that the repercussions can still be felt decades and generations later. The Lost Family begins in 1965 Manhattan. World War II may be over, but the memories are always present for Peter Rashkin, who survived Auschwitz, but lost his wife and daughters. Now, trying to make a new life for himself, he becomes the owner and head chef of a restaurant called Masha, a namesake to his lost wife. People from all over come to eat and savor the…

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Debut Novel by Catherine Steadman is Bombshell Thriller

in Thrillers by

Psychological thrillers have been all the rage recently, beloved for their ability to grab your attention from the very first pages, pull you in, and become so intertwined and twisted that you’re forced to second-guess yourself… and Downton Abbey actress Catherine Steadman has done just that in her fast-moving, debut novel Something in the Water. Erin, a filmmaker in the middle of making a documentary of people in prison – which has the potential to be her professional breakthrough moment – and Mark, a good-looking investment banker with big plans for the future, are traveling in the beautiful and exotic Bora Bora for their dream honeymoon. Passionately in love, they can imagine nothing better than the sun, sand, and each other. But one…

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The Elegance and Beauty of a Struggling Family

in Fiction by

In her heartfelt and elegantly written debut of a beautiful, struggling family, it’s clear that Fatima Farheen Mirza is a gifted writer. She is more than able to make you feel every character’s emotions, while offering compassion for different views, gradually revealing different aspects of each story to create a multilayered tapestry. A Place For Us begins at Hadia’s wedding in California, where the family gathers to celebrate a marriage based on love, rather than one that was arranged. Huda, the middle child, is determined to be like her sister more and more, headstrong and bold. Lastly, Amar, Hadia’s younger brother who ran away three years earlier, has returned for the celebration, taking his place as the brother of the bride.…

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Sarah Winman’s “Tin Man” is Heartbreaking and Tender

in Fiction by

A tender and beautiful story, Sarah Winman’s novel Tin Man is heartbreaking and wonderfully moving, focusing on the relationship between two people, first as young boys and then as adults, with an exquisitely written and introspective look into the experiences and intimacies that are shared in a relationship so close. At twelve years old, Ellis and Michael become friends, with shared similarities in their difficult family lives and less than stellar relationships with their fathers. The two spend a lot of time together, having fun and exploring their hometown, learning to swim, and more. Then, their close friendship becomes something much more. Ten years later, Ellis is married to Annie, and Michael is gone from the picture. Burdened with shame stemming from…

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“That Kind of Mother” Takes on the Challenges of Race and Motherhood

in Fiction by

Rebecca Stone desperately needs help with her newborn and Priscilla, a La Leche nurse from the hospital comes to her rescue. Having experience being a mother herself when she was a single, teen mother many years ago, Priscilla leaves her job at the hospital to become the nanny for Rebecca’s baby. Rebecca feels extremely close to Priscilla, confiding her fears, the hopes and dreams she had for herself and has for her child. She looks at Priscilla as a source of stability in her life, all while learning how to care for a child, and just what it means to be a mother.  Priscilla ends up changing the way that Rebecca looks on not only motherhood, but also the world…

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‘The Immortalists’ Review: If You Knew You Were Going To Die Tomorrow, How Would You Live Today?

in Fiction by

In the summer of 1969, four children from a Jewish family on the Lower East Side of Manhattan visit a psychic and are told the date they will die.  Does this information, this prediction, change the way they choose to live?  That question is wrapped in mystery in The Immortalists, a story that takes us through each of the siblings’ lives. Author Chloe Benjamin provides us with a mesmerizing story of these rich characters, and their choices about how to live. Simon, the youngest brother, moves to California to live his truth and gets caught up in the sexual revolution of the 1980s. His sister Klara, who is irresponsible in many ways, chooses to become a magician. Daniel, the oldest brother,…

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Love Works in Mysterious Ways in Rachel Joyce’s ‘The Music Shop’

in Fiction by

If you love everything 80s, music, tradition, England, and love, you will want to read The Music Shop right away! Frank had an odd childhood; growing up he called his single mother by her first name. The only thing his not-so-nurturing, nontraditional mom ever taught him about was music. Now, a single man outside of London, Frank owns a small music shop on a rundown street. He only sells vinyl records, refusing to keep up with the times and offer CDs or even cassette tapes. He has given up on the possibility for love and seems content in his role in life as a music expert. Frank matches customers and friends to songs he thinks they need to know. He is…

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A Very Human Story: Review of ‘One Station Away’ by Olaf Olaffson

in Fiction by

Knowing the author of One Station Away: A Novel, Olaf Olafsson, is a successful businessman, the Executive Vice President of Time Warner and responsible for introducing Sony PlayStation, this book was not what I had expected, but I was pleasantly surprised  how well written and engaging it was. One Station Away is the thoughtful story of Magnus, a Yale neurologist who conducts research on head trauma patients who appear to have no mental capabilities but in fact may be conscious and communicative. The story takes us through his relationships with the three most important women in his life: his patient, his fiancée, and his mother. With his comatose patient, he spends many evenings holding his her hand and feeling powerless to…

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Tragic, Praiseworthy and Monumental: Review of Tara Westover’s ‘Educated’

in Non-Fiction by

Tara Westover’s coming-of-age story in her memoir Educated, is incredible, tragic, praiseworthy and monumental.  From a young girl loving and believing everything her parents tell her, to questioning their logic and actively pursuing different answers and other ways of thinking, Westover has always had the inherent desire to know more. Reminiscent of Jeanette Walls’s The Glass Castle, Tara lives with her survivalist family in the mountains of Idaho, and similar to Leah Remini’s account of her time as a scientologist in Troublemaker, she begins to realize that everything she has been told may not be the truth, and though fiercely loyal to her parents and siblings, she feels trapped and begins to question their unconventional way of life. Growing up working in a…

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