A Fortunate Life by Fred H. Rohn

I am very excited to share the cover to a special project I have been working on for the past year.


A Fortunate Life is written by my father, Fred H. Rohn.

image0-jpgAuthor Fred H. Rohn grew up on Hurden Street in Hillside, New Jersey, a place that played a pivotal role in his upbringing.

From bike rides and street games in Hillside, to marriage and children in the town of Madison, Rohn shares his experiences of growing up during the Depression, attending college, serving in the Navy, embarking on a business career, and marrying his best friend and high school sweetheart.

Offering an important historical perspective on growing up in the twentieth century, this memoir shares what Rohn considers to be the factors of a fortunate life. Interspersed with photographs from past and present, he shows how one small life fits, as a microcosm, into the fabric of family, friends, and an ever-changing world environment.

Get your copy of A Fortunate Life here.

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The Time Between by Karen White

The Time Between

Karen White


Are sisters “forever” or can secrets can break the bond?  That’s the big question in Karen White’s story about two sets of sisters whose lives are divided by tragedy and broken dreams.  The Time Between traces the modern lives of Eleanor Murray and her wheelchair-bound sister Eve, whose life was forever changed because of a sisterly dare.  We meet the second set of sisters when Finn Beaufain, Eleanor’s daytime boss, hires her for a second job as companion to his elderly aunt, Helena Szarka.

The story takes place on the scenic Edisto Island in South Carolina, where Eleanor and Eve grew up and where Helena and her sister Bernadett followed their older sister Magda after World War II.  Eleanor is a young woman, trapped by guilt and obligation to care for Eve and their arthritic mother.  Her dream of studying piano at Julliard has been dashed and Eve’s husband Glen is a reminder of what could have been.

Helena does not want a companion.  At ninety years old, she is grieving Bernadett’s death and has little patience for Eleanor’s self-absorbed martyrdom.  Their shared love of music may bring them together, but family secrets on both sides block the way.  At Helen’s house, something is strange about the oil paintings that hang on her walls.  And Eleanor’s unspoken and painful thoughts trace back to Eve’s accident.  If only her father were still alive to guide her.

I enjoyed this story of family, mystery, and the parallel look at sisters, written from the surviving sisters’ varying points of view.  I also enjoyed the historical element, which describes the three Szarka sisters as young women during the German invasion of Hungary.  White’s vivid descriptions of Edisto make it easy to picture life on the island, a place that would be nice to visit.  Sweetgrass baskets sold by roadside locals fill Helena’s house and they take on special meaning when Helena enters a forbidden closed-off room at Luna Point.

Helena and Eve are different, but their similarities may be enough to help them understand the decisions they’ve made and see that there are indeed second chances, allowing them to break free from the time between.

The Time Between is a light story with thought provoking themes.  While its plot and characters are often predictable, White writes about many of my favorite subjects, family, relationships, and mysterious old houses with locked doors and forbidden rooms.

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Who’s That Indie Author? Gerhard Maroscher

Who's That Indie Author pic


Author name:  Gerhard Maroscher

Genre:  Memoir

BookWhy Can’t Somebody Just Die Around Here?


Bio: Gerhard was born in Transylvania (part of Romania) during WWII. He and his family miraculously survived the war and the deprivation thereafter. After the war they fled communist countries, eventually immigrating to the USA. Gerhard worked as an engineer for 34 years after serving in Vietnam. Following his retirement he began a second career as a high school German teacher. While immersed in teaching, he wrote and published German short stories for learners of German. After his second retirement he wrote his memoir.          

Favorite thing about being a writer: Giving author talks where I get to tell my story, feedback from readers, and meeting interesting people

Biggest challenge as an indie author: Using technology and social media to market my books effectively

Favorite book: Ken Follett Century Trilogy.

Contact Information: website:  The Maroscher Story, Short Fiction website:  German Readers, Twitter:  @gmaroscher1, Facebook:  Why Can’t Somebody Just Die Around Here?

Awards and recognition: Why Can’t Somebody Just Die Around Here? received the 2016 IAN Outstanding Non-Fiction Book of the Year Award for history. The book also received a positive review from Kirkus.

Are you an indie author?  Do you want to build your indie author network? Why not get your name out on Who’s That Indie Author?

Email bvitelli2009@gmail.com for a bio template and other details, and follow along on Book Club Mom to join the indie author community!

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Who’s That Author? Herman Wouk

photo: hermanwouk.com
photo: hermanwouk.com

Herman Wouk is an award-winning American author of fiction, non-fiction and plays.  He may be the most famous for The Caine Mutiny, which won the 1952 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, but many readers in my age group will also remember his hugely popular historical novels, also about World War II, The Winds of War and War and Remembrance.  The first book was made into the very popular 1983 television miniseries starring Robert Mitchum, Ali McGraw, Jan-Michael Vincent, John Houseman and Polly Bergen.  Its sequel was released in 1988, with the return of Mitchum and Bergen and added others including Jane Seymour and Sharon Stone.  You can check out the sequel’s full cast and crew here.

Another favorite of mine is Marjorie Morningstar, published in 1955.  It’s the story of a nineteen-year-old Jewish girl from New York who dreams of becoming an actress.  Warner Brothers made it into a movie in 1958, starring Natalie Wood and Gene Kelly.

Wouk has had a long career.  He celebrated his 100th birthday in May 2015 when he announced the January 2016 release of his autobiographical memoir, Sailor and Fiddler – Reflections of a 100-year-Old Author.  Visit Simon and Schuster here for more information about this book, which Wouk has announced will be his last.

Sailor and Fiddler

I haven’t read everything Herman Wouk has written, but if you know me, you know how I feel about Youngblood Hawke!  I think I’m about to go on a Wouk binge to catch up on what I’ve missed.

Here’s a list of Wouk’s work, taken from his website, cited below:

Bibliography (Fiction and Non-Fiction)
Sailor and Fiddler: Reflections of a 100-Year Old Author (2015)
The Lawgiver
The Language God Talks (2010)
A Hole in Texas (2004)
The Will to Live on: The Resurgence of Jewish Heritage (2000)
The Glory (1994)
The Hope (1993)
Inside, Outside (1985)
War and Remembrance (1978)
The Winds of War (1971)
The Lomokome Papers (1968)
Don’t Stop the Carnival (1965)
Youngblood Hawke (1961)
This is My God: The Jewish Way of Life (1959, revised ed. 1973)
Slattery’s Hurricane (1956)
Marjorie Morningstar (1955)
The Caine Mutiny (1951)
City Boy: The Adventures of Herbie Bookbinder (1948)
Aurora Dawn (1947)

Film & Television                                        
War and Remembrance (1988)
The Winds of War (1983)
Marjorie Morningstar (1958)
The Caine Mutiny (1954)

Don’t Stop The Carnival (music and lyrics by Jimmy Buffett)
Nature’s Way
The Caine Mutiny Court Martial
The Traitor

For more information, click here to read an excellent article from The Atlantic (May 2015) about Wouk’s work and his 100th birthday.  You can also read Wouk’s biography on his website, hermanwouk.com.

Thanks to these additional sources:  biography.com and Wikipedia.

Have you read any of Herman Wouk’s books?  Which ones are your favorites?

Ever made an imaginary soundtrack to your favorite book? Click here to see what songs I picked for Youngblood Hawke!

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Who’s That Indie Author? Phyllis Edgerly Ring

Who's That Indie Author pic

Phyllis Ring

Author name: Phyllis Edgerly Ring

Genre: Historical fiction, romantic suspense, inspirational nonfiction.

Book: Newest release is The Munich Girl: A Novel of the Legacies that Outlast War.

The Munich Girl

Bio: My palm’s lifeline accurately predicted a lot of different facets to my work life. I’ve experienced them with people of all ages in Asia, Europe, and the U.S., but through it all, I’ve also always been a writer. For years I did the writing that others needed or wanted done. I’m grateful to have lasted long enough to finally do what my heart wants: get lost with a few mysterious questions in the shaping of book-length fiction.

Favorite thing about being a writer: Believe it or not, revision. I love to ride the successive waves of it until it’s shown me what I’m meant to discover and then things come whole at last. These things I like about writing are, more or less, what I like about living, too.

Biggest challenge as an indie author: Finding creative ways to make a book discoverable without alienating loved ones or annoying anyone. J After being published by trade publishers, then going it alone, I’ve learned that it is appreciative readers, more than any other factor, that can best help potential readers find a book, and understand why they’d want to read it.

Favorite book: Currently it’s Liz Gilbert’s Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. The book’s premise is, and has long been, my personal operating system in life.

Contact Information: You can find Phyllis at her website, Leaf of the Tree, on Twitter: @phyllisring, on her Amazon Author Page, and on her Goodreads Author Page.

Are you an indie author?  Do you want to build your indie author network? Why not get your name out on Who’s That Indie Author?

Email bvitelli2009@gmail.com for a bio template and other details, and follow along on Book Club Mom to join the indie author community!

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A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson

A God in Ruins cover
A God in Ruins

Kate Atkinson


How do you reconcile the things you do during a war with how you live when it’s all over? Can you make up for what you did? This is the conflict that becomes Teddy Todd’s personal war in Kate Atkinson’s terrific book, A God in Ruins, a companion to her equally terrific book, Life After Life.

Life After Life is a “what if” story, showing the different paths and possible outcomes for Teddy’s sister, Ursula, during World War II. A God in Ruins is about Teddy and his role as an RAF pilot during its bombing campaign over Germany. You can read them independently, but I think it’s better to read Life After Life first.

Both books are ambitious reads and can’t be rushed. A God in Ruins, however, is a different kind of story, and examines Teddy’s life during and after the war. Atkinson also introduces Teddy’s wife, Nancy and their daughter, Viola and her children, Sunny and Bertie, taking the reader to the present day. As in Life After Life, this story includes a lot of time jumps and requires careful reading. But the central story revolves around one path in Teddy’s life and his role as a husband, father and grandfather.

It’s hard to explain how this story goes without spoilers, but I can tell you this: Atkinson has a beautiful writing style that creates a reading experience like no other. From the beginning, her description of the Todd family puts the reader right in the middle of their home at Fox Corner, and with the neighboring Shawcross sisters. When the war breaks out, Teddy announces he wants to fly planes, a wartime career of exceptional leadership that defines and haunts him his entire life.

The most important theme in A God in Ruins is the war and the things people must do during this time. Can you be at peace with dropping bombs? Can you make up for “the dreadful moral compromise that war imposed upon you?” Teddy deliberately chose how to live after the war – “he resolved that he would try always to be kind. It was the best he could do. It was all that he could do.” But these choices do not guarantee happiness.

As in Life After Life, flowers, trees and animals, especially foxes, hares, dogs and birds, play an important part in the characters’ lives and suggest a strong spiritual connection with nature, including the idea of reincarnation. These ideas tie into her characters’ doubts of faith during wartime. Ursula puts it just right when she says, “There’s a spark of the divine in the world – not God, we’re done with God, but something. Is it love? Not silly romantic love, but something more profound…?”

I loved every word of this book, but here’s what I loved best about A God in Ruins:

  • Teddy’s character – especially how he quietly takes care of the people in his life. His leadership of his flight crew shows how much he cares about the people around him. But his character has this great moral dilemma – he and his crew are killing innocent people, but the distance removes them from reality. Can you blame them? They’re fighting the enemy. After the war, Teddy’s love for his grandchildren comes before everything, but Atkinson throws a curveball at Teddy’s character, something that may change the reader’s opinion..
  • Sunny’s character – Atkinson reveals it bit by bit and the reader comes to understand him by the end of the story.
  • Viola’s transformation – reading about things from her perspective changes everything. Saving her point of view to the end forces the reader to completely reconsider her character.
  • The appearance of Ursula’s dog, “Lucky” from Life After Life. It’s great to see him in this story too!
  • I like how Atkinson also shows the important role that women played during the war. Many worked as pilots transporting planes, truck drivers, translators, mathematicians, decoders and nurses.
  • Atkinson shows small details about her side characters, hinting about stories and scenarios that the reader can imagine taking place in the background. This is especially true with her descriptions of Hugh and Sylvie and their marriage.
  • She makes a small jab about the Eat, Pray, Love craze – enjoyed that very much!
  • Her description of the moment of death – its effect on family members who are far apart, how they can sense it, on nature, on the world, and on what’s next.

A God in Ruins ends in a surprising twist. It has left me wondering, but I’m thinking that’s just what the author wanted! Have you read A God in Ruins? What did you think? Did you like the ending?

If you liked this review, click here to read my review of Life After Life.

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What’s up next? A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson

A God in Ruins cover

I have been on the waitlist to borrow A God in Ruins from the library for months and yesterday, my name came up! I can’t wait to get started!

A God in Ruins is a companion book to Life After Life, a great story in which Atkinson explores the “what if” possibilities of her characters’ lives.

Here’s what I had to say about Life After Life in my December 2, 2013 review:

This is one of the best books I’ve ever read.  It is a complicated story that begins with both the birth and death of Ursula Todd and moves in different directions as Ursula’s life is saved or rewritten, leaving the reader to wonder whether we are seeing how fate could have taken different turns or if Ursula herself is somehow able to rewind tragedies and try to get them right the next time.

Set in England and beginning in 1910, this story spans both World Wars, but focuses on the period during World War II and the heavy toll it took on Europe. Ursula’s different life paths place her at the center of the German bombings in London for much of the book.  In a separate turn of life, she spends time in Germany and twice almost manages to rewrite Adolf Hitler’s fate.

To say I loved Life After Life can never fully express how I feel about that book. You can read my full review of it here.

Here is Amazon’s description of A God in Ruins:

A God in Ruins tells the dramatic story of the 20th Century through Ursula’s beloved younger brother Teddy–would-be poet, heroic pilot, husband, father, and grandfather-as he navigates the perils and progress of a rapidly changing world. After all that Teddy endures in battle, his greatest challenge is living in a future he never expected to have.

An ingenious and moving exploration of one ordinary man’s path through extraordinary times, A GOD IN RUINS proves once again that Kate Atkinson is one of the finest novelists of our age.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? Have you read Life After Life? What about A God in Ruins? Leave a comment and tell me what you think!

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Who’s That Indie Author? Rose Seiler Scott

Who's That Indie Author pic

Rose Seiler Scott

Author name: Rose Seiler Scott

Genre: Historical fiction, Non-fiction

Books: Threaten To Undo Us (May 2015), contributing author in Hot Apple Cider with Cinnamon (Nov 2015)

Threaten to Undo Us

Bio: Since fifth grade, Rose has enjoyed writing, but her career path took several turns including piano teaching and mother of four, before completing her first novel.

THREATEN TO UNDO US (MAY 2015) is the result of years of research, exposing history that few in the Western world are familiar with. The novel is based on the real life story of a family torn apart by two powerful regimes during and after World War Two.

Two of Rose’s inspirational non-fiction pieces appear in the HOT APPLE CIDER WITH CINNAMON (NOV 2015) compilation.

Rose lives in Surrey, B.C. with her husband Andy and their two youngest children.

Favorite thing about being a writer: Going to work when I want, wearing what I want and writing what I want. I’m also pretty pleased when people say they couldn’t put my book down!

Biggest challenge as an indie author: Right now, the biggest challenge is actually finding time to write, between book promotions and the rest of life.

Favorite book: (Can’t pick just one!) Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls, Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery, The Help by Kathryn Stockett, Unbroken by Lauren Hillenbrand, The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom, and Twopence to Cross the Mersey by Helen Forrester

Contact Information:

Facebook: Rose Seiler Scott
Twitter: @roseseilerscott
Goodreads Author: Rose Seiler Scott

Are you an indie author looking for some positive publicity? Do you want to build your indie author network? Why not get your name out on Who’s That Indie Author?

Email bvitelli2009@gmail.com for a bio template and other details, and follow along on Book Club Mom to join the indie author community!

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Threaten To Undo Us by Rose Seiler Scott

Threaten To Undo Us
Rose Seiler Scott


Threaten To Undo Us is the suspenseful story of a German family living in Poland during and after World War II. In this excellent book, Liesel and Ernst Hoffmann are raising four young children in a Polish village. But Hitler’s invasion of Poland in 1939 has put citizens with German backgrounds in a dangerous situation and alliances are tested. Many of the men join the German forces, but others, like Liesel and Ernst, just want to live their lives in peace. Ernst is forced to enlist in the German army, however, and Liesel is left alone to manage. As Hitler’s regime collapses, Soviet forces enter with equal hostility and Liesel must do her best to keep her family safe, and together.

Threaten To Undo Us focuses on the innocent German families in this region who are caught in an impossible conflict and tells how they are forced to flee their homes. Many families are separated and sent to Soviet labor camps, where they face harsh winters, disease and starvation. They must rely on faith and resolve to endure the brutal conditions, with little hope of being saved.

Although there are many books of historical fiction set during World War II, I enjoyed this one because of its different angle. I especially liked seeing Liesel’s character develop and strengthen as she struggles to keep her family together. And while the story moves at an exciting pace, the reader can still feel how its characters must endure long periods of separation and suffering. But this is not just an action novel. Scott parallels the larger tragedies with Liesel’s family life and struggles, adding dimension to the story and her characters. She also includes the question of faith as characters depend on an inner strength to survive. Its title comes from the Lutheran hymn, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” a theme that is frequently referred to as Liesel faces adversity.

I read this on my Kindle, and, although there were a few issues with formatting, its presentation was otherwise flawless and a great entertaining read!

I received a copy of Threaten To Undo Us in exchange for an honest review.

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Reading List Update

I’ve been a busy Book Club Mom lately and I have a big list of books in the queue. Here’s a look at what I’m reading now, and what’s ahead:


Reading now:

A Walk in the WoodsI’m in the middle of reading Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods. In 1996, Bryson and his old school friend, Stephen Katz, began a hiking adventure on the Appalachian Trail, a 2,100-mile path in the eastern United States, running from Georgia to Maine, through forests and over mountains. Written in 1998, A Walk in the Woods is an entertaining story of how these unlikely hikers fared on the trail. It was made into a movie this year, and stars Robert Redford and Nick Nolte. I’m enjoying Bryson’s commentary and writing style very much and I’m looking forward to reading more. Bryson is a best-selling author of many humorous books on travel, the English language and science.


On the list:

The Dressmaker coverThe Dressmaker by Kate Alcott – this is a historical novel about a woman who survived the sinking of the Titanic and the aftermath of the tragedyMy book club will be discussing this one next month.


we are not ourselves.jpgWe Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas – recommended to me by blogging friend Dawn from Mom Mom’s Apron. Publishers Weekly describes it as “A definitive portrait of American social dynamics in the twentieth century.”


Bridge of Scarlet LeavesBridge of Scarlet Leaves by Kristina McMorris – a historical novel set during the Japanese internment of World War II. My book club read and liked another book by McMorris, The Pieces We Keep (read my review here) so I’m looking forward to this one!


The Oblong Box“The Oblong Box” by Edgar Allan Poe – recommended to me by Jeff at Stuff Jeff Reads. Jeff reviewed “The Oblong Box” on his blog and I found it for free on my Kindle. I always love a good short story so thanks to Jeff for the suggestion!


The Liberty Box 2The Liberty Box by C.A. Gray, the first book of a young adult dystopian series, referred to me by Evil Cyclist’s Books. You can check out his review here. The Liberty Box is a new book series and was released on October 25.


Threaten to Undo UsThreaten to Undo Us by Rose Seiler Scott –Scott describes her historical novel: “As Hitler’s Third Reich crumbles and Stalin’s Army advances, German civilians in the Eastern territories are forced to flee for their lives…Liesel and her four young children hope they can make it from their home in Poland across the Oder River to safety…But all that awaits them is terror and uncertainty.”


I’ll be posting reviews as I work my way through this interesting list.  What are you reading right now and what’s on your list?

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