Author

Jennifer Blankfein - page 2

Jennifer Blankfein has 63 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.

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

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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’

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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

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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’

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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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‘The Last Suppers’ by Mandy Mikulencak Weaves a Complicated Story about Food and Sacrifice

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Set in a 1950s Louisiana penitentiary, The Last Suppers is a captivating novel. Ginny, the young daughter of a murdered prison guard, is now all grown up and cooking for the inmates at the jail.  She meets with the prisoners on death row to find out what they want for their last meal and does her best to create the requested dishes. The drama began two decades prior, when Ginny’s father was killed and his supposed murderer was put to death while she and her mother were present.  Her dad’s best friend, Roscoe, promised to take care of Ginny and her mother; now Ginny and Roscoe, currently the jail warden, work together and are a couple, intimately involved.  Despite the age difference, their…

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Dirty Little Secrets Between Friends Revealed in Rebecca Drake’s ‘Just Between Us’

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Suspense/thriller author Rebecca Drake takes us to a suburban town, where four close friends each hide dirty secrets that are slowly revealed as the fast-paced Just Between Us unfolds. This domestic drama, similar in some ways to Big Little Lies, showcases their perfect, small town existence, but behind the public facade there is a deep darkness. Three friends believe that their other friend is in an abusive marriage and when the husband is found dead, they all agree to cover up the murder.  As the investigation proceeds, nothing is what it seems, and each friend must come clean as the authorities get closer and closer to the truth.  Though at times decisions the friends make are a bit far fetched, the story is…

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‘Green’ by Sam Graham-Felsen Explores Friendship and Diversity in 1990s Boston

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It is the 1990s and Dave, son of Harvard educated hippies, is one of only a few white kids in his Boston middle school.  Having a difficult time connecting with the other students, he becomes drawn to Marlon, a black kid from the projects who seems to have similar interests: video games, the Boston Celtics and getting into the better high school.  They become friendly but both are ashamed of their home lives and there is always a distance between them even as they become closer.  Still, they spend hours watching vintage basketball games and have conversations about lots of subjects. I felt compassion for both Dave, as he struggled to fit in, got pushed around on the bus, wanted…

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Review: ‘Hum If You Don’t Know the Words,’ is a Powerful Expression of Love and Hope in the Midst of Tragedy

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Hum If You Don’t Know the Words is one of my favorite debut novels in the last year.  Bianca Marais has created a rich story line that is unique in how the well developed characters navigate very sensitive issues of the time: racism and apartheid in South Africa. In 1976, racism and apartheid was a way of life in South Africa. Here, we meet Robin, a nine-year-old white girl, the daughter of a miner and his wife. Robin’s father did not always treat black South Africans fairly and, tragically, he and his wife were murdered, leaving their daughter alone. Young Robin exhibits incredible coping skills she has developed since she was a baby and despite the culture of the country’s…

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Family Conflicts Ignite in Celeste Ng’s ‘Little Fires Everywhere’

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In Little Fires Everywhere, Author Celeste Ng skillfully weaves together two unlikely families as they hide secrets to pursue a good life.  Elena Richardson, born and bred in Shaker Heights,  is a buttoned up, mother of four.  The relationships she has with her husband and children seem typical and normal, yet, as she is continually trying to do the right thing, she struggles with her own expressions and tendencies and unknowingly distances herself from her family.  Free spirited, single mother, artist, Mia Warren and her obedient teenage daughter, Pearl, move to town and quickly become intertwined in the lives of the Richardsons. For Pearl, the Richardsons represent a typical, happy family; a family she would love to be a part…

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Jewish History is Revisited in Martha Hall Kelly’s ‘Lilac Girls’

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If you missed the release of Lilac Girls, now is the time to buy the paperback. It is historical fiction based on true and harrowing events during World War II. For me, the Holocaust has always been mostly about how the Jews were prosecuted; a devastating time in our history across the world. But of course the Jewish people were not the only ones who were affected. Author Martha Hall Kelly gets up close and personal with Kasia, a young Polish girl with Jewish ancestry who is completing secret missions for the underground anti-war efforts and is captured by the Gestapo with her sister and her mother. One of these unforgettable characters is Herta, an out of work, German doctor…

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A ‘Red-Haired Woman’ Turns Lives Upside Down in Pamuk’s New Book

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I really enjoyed this short but dense book, The Red-Haired Woman written by Turkish Nobel Prize winning author Orhan Pamuk. In the 1980s, a teenage, fatherless boy is an apprentice to Master Mahmut, a well digger. They dig for water in the hot sun, and tell stories to pass the time. As time goes on, they develop a tight relationship and grow to rely on each other as co-workers and as father and son. However, everything is turned upside-down when, one evening, the boy observes a beautiful red-haired woman twice his age and daydreams about her to get through the difficult days of work. She is an actress in a traveling theater production and he becomes overwhelmed with a desire to…

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Chaos Hits Home for the Holidays in ‘The Boyfriend Swap’

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If you are looking for an escape this holiday season, The Boyfriend Swap by Meredith Schorr is just what you need! We step in on an unforgettable character, Robyn, who is a teacher dating an actor. Her family would like for her to meet a guy with ambition and some success but they are always disappointed with the creative types she is drawn to. Sydney is a lawyer at her father’s law firm and she is dating a lawyer. Her father is obsessed with the law and tends to talk business incessantly; something she has no patience for. Ann Marie is Robyn’s roommate and she works for Sydney at the law firm.  The three girls were together at a wine party and…

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Danzy Senna’s ‘New People’ Explores Race, Identity and More

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I really enjoyed New People and was intrigued by who the description, “new people”, referred to. Maria and Khalil are a seemingly happy, engaged couple living in Brooklyn, both light skinned, mixed race. Khalil, a technology consultant, comes from a solid, intact family unit and is close with his parents and sister who is darker skinned than he is. Maria has no relatives; she was adopted by a black woman who was hoping to raise a “mini me” and has since passed away. She is spending her time writing her dissertation on Jamestown and busy learning about the mass suicides, how this could happen, and how those people kept going as long as they did. Maria’s previous boyfriend was white and…

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‘The Best of Us’: Joyce Maynard’s Memoir on Love, Loss and Life

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I highly recommend reading Joyce Maynard’s The Best of Us, but just make sure you have a box of tissues. Maynard finds the love of her life in her 50s, many years after being divorced and raising her children as a single mother. She and Jim, her new love, had a wonderful connection and were enjoying life to the fullest. And then their future was shattered when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She stood by him, provided hope and continued to look for treatments and solutions until the end. Her love story is beautiful and devastating as she chronicles the time before she meets Jim, during their love affair and his battle with this devastating disease, and afterward when she…

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‘White Fur’: Is Love Really More Powerful Than Money?

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The more I think about this novel, the more I love White Fur by Jardine Libaire. It’s the 1980s and Elise, a school dropout and recently homeless young girl is living in New Haven with a friend she met on the street. Jamey is one of the white, privileged and wealthy guys in the apartment next door; the longtime buddies are students at Yale and everything material has been given to them on a silver platter. The unlikely attraction between Elise and Jamey is powerful, lustful and trepidatious on Jamey’s part, as Elise is from low-class, poor, unsophisticated stock, and although she has big love for her family and knows what she wants out of life, his fancy and pretentious family and…

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Review: A Favorite ‘Sourdough’ Recipe Changes Everything

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Sourdough by Robin Sloan is the perfect blend of culinary secrets and technological experiments, filled with excitement and drama. Lois is a programmer who spends her endless days writing code and programming a robot arm. She resorts to drinking a Slurry (an unappealing nutritional concoction) for lunch during the day, and ordering delivery of spicy soup with delicious bread from a neighborhood hole in the wall at night. She falls into this comfortable routine and when the delivery guy tells her he and his brother, the chef, have to leave the country, she is distraught. Because she has become to them the “Number One Eater”, they are leaving her with a valuable secret…the special starter for the sourdough bread she adores,…

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