A. J. Finn "The Woman in the Window" A thriller of a page-turner and though I figured bits of it out as I read along... it surprisingly didn't bother me. For the most part the story line was believable, and if I felt that the protagonist, Anna, was not exercising good judgement, I could forgive this book for its shortcomings. A stayed-up-too-late kind of read that you'll spot on my Maggie's Mix shelf.
Emily Fridlund "History of Wolves" Loneliness permeates this book. And though on a number of "best picks of 2017" lists, I'm uncertain if I liked it. Something compelled me to finish the book, and again I'm not sure why. I hope you read it as I'd like to discuss it with someone.
Kent Haruf "Plainsong" You'll know each character by their dialogue, you may have met them at the diner, at school or at a local bar. They are simple though humanly complex. Haruf delivers a straight forward tale of life... a strong yet simple read. Loved it!
Amor Towles "A Gentleman in Moscow" A delightful read with sharp, clever dialogue, rich characters, and every page a pleasure. In an age of redundancy in literature, it is a rare original. Five Bright Stars
"The Sinner" A
woman confesses to murder, yet the detective assigned to the case
refuses to accept her version of why she committed the heinous act and
sets out to dig out the reason behind the unexpected attack. If you're a
reader that needs to know what's going on, and likes things clear with
no confusion... this book is not for you. Disturbing and gritty, a
different, clever take on solving a grisly crime.
Angie Thomas "The Hate You Give" Written for young adults, The Hate U Give is an eye-opening account of growing up Black in America. We've all heard the stories of black lives and the injustices suffered by many on a daily basis. But with Thomas's straight forward, fearless narration a small inkling of what it might be like is conveyed,... though being white and from New England I can never really fathom the reality of a black person's daily life in this nation.
Celeste Ng "Everything I Never Told You" The story of an Asian-American family in small town Ohio during the 1970s is unveiled in this perfectly paced novel. Like the peeling of an onion, the layers of each character is revealed until the heart of the family is exposed. A beautifully written, page turner... it will make you weep.
Christina Henriquez "The Book of Unknown Americans: a novel" A quick read it would better serve
a young adult population, though it is cataloged for adults. It did,
however, get my book group talking, about immigration: legal citizenship and
illegal immigration, leaving one's country and assimilating into a new
society, the situation in the world today in these daunting times. I
give it 3.5 stars out of 5.
Han Kang "The Vegetarian" A
dark twist to the time old tale of familial relationships. A short
read that served to pull me down to the point I thought I would shelve
it... glad I didn't. Relationships become clear and the source of the
bizarre behavior of the main character is slowly revealed. Winner of
2016 Man Booker Award... Dark but great.
Herman Koch "The Dinner" Great
book! Despite it's small size it had much to tell as the author kept
the narrative tight and interesting... no extras, no unnecessary scenes,
no wasted words. I was surprised to learn of my own preconceived
notions in regards to the characters, and how my opinions of them
changed during the course of the novel. A solid, really good read.
Monica Wood "The One-In-A-Million Boy" A unique, uplifting read. An original work that softens the heart as it deals with life's difficult challenges. Sweet read.
Jeff Bartsch "Two Across" Love
words? Love puzzles? Jeff Bartsch will not disappoint with his
original, delightful novel that will keep you entertained from A to Z
and all in between. A clever read for wordies!
Roland Merullo "Breakfast with Buddha" A
sweet and savory read... Merullo is spot on in this light-hearted
account of spending time with a "spiritual guru". Be sure to read the
author's note at the back of the book.
E. Lockhart "We Were Liars" Four
teens, disillusioned by their parents elite life-style, decide to
shake-up the adults in their privileged world. Lockhart weaves a
twisting, turning tale of rebelliousness and regret, culminating in a
startling conclusion. A YA book that I enjoyed, despite the bit I found
doubtful. Good Summer Read.
Christopher Scotton "The Secret Wisdom of the Earth"Scotton
holds a secret wisdom in his rich prose as he eloquently shares his
love of nature, of the earth, through the compelling characters that he
creates. Though I enjoyed his writing immensely, the story took a turn
about half way through and I found the adventure two boys and a
grandfather experienced to be a bit far fetched. Worth the read,
however, just to experience the wisdom of Scotton.
David Nicholls "Us"
Nicholls' hind-sighted look at the making of a marriage, while
simultaneously recounting the possible breaking of said marriage, is
told with wandering wit and wisdom. A laugh out loud tale of the
bitter-sweet moments of life, this novel is "not a heavy", but rather a
very enjoyable, believable read.
Nathan Filer "The Shock of the Fall" Nathan Filer: an original voice... a voice for the voiceless. A great book. No spoilers here, just read it.
B. A. Shapiro "The Art Forger" I found the book an easy read and I wasn't wild about Shapiro's first person narrative. Some paragraphs were littered with "I did this, I did that..." so much, that I rewrote sentences/paragraphs in my head as I read. Parts of the book could have been left out completely (ie teaching art classes at the prison). The "in love" aspect was a bit sugary for my tastes. With that said Shapiro's explanation of art forgery was thorough and intriguing. She wove together a tale from the past, a recent real art heist, and introduced readers to an insider's view of the art world in contemporary life.
Lily King "Father of the Rain"
A searing story of a daughter's love for her alcoholic father and the
ties that bind. Despite slipping away to create a life of her own
vision, Daley is pulled back to her hometown, to her Dad and to his
dysfunctional life. A man she can't let go of, despite his abusive
ways. Rich in prose, this is not a fast read... just a solid book about
life and love and the subtle changes that take place in day to day
living which often can only be seen in retrospect.
Lily King "Euphoria"
Inspired by a biography of Margaret Mead, King does her own exploration
of relationships, man's nature and the meaning of civilized versus
savage. King's story and character development is exquisite... a
perfectly timed build-up to a heart-achingly, gorgeous end. Just a great
book, which has inspired me to read a biography of Margaret Mead. This
is the second Lily King book I've read... both were fantastic and,
unlike some authors works, they were completely different.
Sue Monk Kidd "The Invention of Wings"
- The South... Slavery... Abolition... Women's Rights... Kidd's fresh telling of this time in U.S. history is told with frank honesty and true
compassion. The story is revealed through the voice of two young women
as they grow from girls to adulthood. One white... one black... one
free... one struggling to be free. A beautiful story of Sarah Grimke, a
historical figure living at the beginning of the abolitionist movement,
and Handful Grimke, a fictional character created by Kidd. A wonderful
read as well as a great audio book.
Thrity Umrigar "The Story Hour" - Meet Maggie, a psychologist with a unique style not always appreciated in the psychiatric ward where she works. Meet Lakshmie, an Indian woman who finds herself living in America, married, yet so lonely that suicide looks like the only way out of her despair. Maggie meets Lakshmie and they form a friendship that strengthens with time, until their bond is ultimately put to the test. Just a sweet read... Lakshmie is unforgettable.
Jenna led me to this wonderful, original read... otherwise I never would have plucked it off the shelf. A can't-put-it-down, fast-paced thrill, I found myself reading to the wee hours of the morn. The protagonist, Mark Watney, is MacGyver on Mars. Though technically Sci-fi, as we haven't landed a man on Mars, every fix-it, every escape, every Nasa calculation is feasibly possible with today's technology. A super read.
This debut novel is simply a gem. It is just a story... nothing fancy... that is the beauty of it. A tale of small town friendships and going where life leads, only to bring you back to your roots once again. People grow and go and return to the love that binds.
I pick up a John Irving novel every 4 to 5 years; they are so full-up, they serve to fill me. Last Night in Twisted River is my favorite Irving read yet. A tale of a writer and his restaurant cook father, on a four decade run from a mad cop and a deadly mistake. The journey takes the reader from Northern NH, to Boston then Canada, with time spent in the mid-west. We meet an array of colorful characters and a taste of Irving's writing process. An incredible book that simmers and boils, but always tells a great story.
A son assassinates a presidential candidate... a devastated father sets out on a journey to discover why. Less about the crime than about the psychology behind the terrible act and how it affects the family, especially the young man's father. The Good Father touches on the history of assassinations, gun laws and the impact such crimes have on society as well.
Mary Beth Keane
It's the eve of the 20th century and Mary Mallon, a 15 year-old Irish immigrant making her way in New York City as a chef to the upper middle-class, is the first person to be identified as a healthy carrier of Typhoid Fever. The Dept. of Health is on her tail; she is captured and sent to North Brother Island and kept in isolation for 3 years. Headstrong Mary, can see the city from the island, but the rapid waters lend no chance of escape. Mary doesn't give up... this is the story of a marked woman who defies the system.
"Orphan Train" - Crosses a century and a heart-wrenching slice of U.S. history as two orphans lives intersect. Vivian's life unfolds as the teenage Molly aids her in organizing her attic. Their mutual childhood experiences forms a bond that leads to a deep understanding and ultimate rescue of one another.
"The Kitchen House" - Grissom tells a well researched tale of black slavery and white indentured servants... of a shame filled time in our nation's history. Her characters predictably range from noble, heroic and upstanding to despicable and of low character. The local traditions and facts she includes are interesting, yet I found it to be too much, often not adding to the main story. I know this is a very popular book group read... try it out for yourself.
"Tell the Wolves I'm Home" - A story of awkward adolescence and self-acceptance... of love lost and regained... of the family ties that bind allowing us to put the pettiness of life aside in order to forgive, to forget, to grow. A simple story, simply told... an easy read; I can't quite ascertain the reasons I liked it so much. Perhaps like life, I should just accept and enjoy it.
"Illuminations: a novel of Hildegarde von Bingen" - The mystic nun, Hildegarde von Bingen's life is unearthed in this historical novel. A remarkable woman of the Middle Ages who's true voice caught the attention of the all-powerful men of the clergy and impoverished peasants alike; Hildegarde's extraordinary story tells of rising above seemingly insurmountable circumstances, to become all that she was meant to be.
"Blue Asylum" - It's the Civil War when a slave owner's, free-thinking wife does the unthinkable. What to do? Have her declared insane and tuck her safely away in an expensive asylum where she is introduced to a cast of characters both interesting and tragic.
"A Violet Season" - A women's world at the turn of the 20th century is the subject of this well researched, thoroughly enjoyable novel. Czepiel touches on the violet industry which thrived in areas of NewYork during the late 1800's, as well as wet nurse, prostitution, laundress and other roles open to women at this time. A great read.
"The Marriage Plot" - I listened to this on CD... one of those that I took into the house and back to the car, it was that good. Touching on everything from Victorian literature, to mental illness, to family relationships, to self-discovery with its ups and downs and wrong turns, "The Marriage Plot" is a wonderful listen and a book that I'll eventually pick up and read.
"The Art of Hearing Heartbeats" - Poetic in its simple prose, Sendker's book is a beautiful poignant story of pure love. A love that wants the best for the one beloved... a love that time and distance cannot shake. Truly and original love story.
"The Absolutist" - An affair that shouldn't be during a time of horrific turmoil, Boyne, tells of the coming of age of two young men during WWI. Though I found it a bit redundant at times, Boyne weaves a believable scenario of unrequited love and the madness that war can wrought. Worth your time.
"The Snow Child" - The hard life of living in Alaska during the 1940's is the setting for this magical tale, normally not my cup of tea, but in this case I was enchanted. After losing a much wanted child, a couple escapes their easy eastern life and relocates to the cutting cold of Alaska. Through hard work, kind help and a fairy tale child, they grow in love and life. If you've ever lived in a really difficult climate... you can believe the magic in this book.
"Margherita Dolce Vita" - Combining sharp wit with social commentary, Benni, pokes fun at the establishment while challenging the practice of big business. Told by 15 year old, Margherita, an awkward teen with a vivid imagination and a fearless heart, I found myself smiling as I read each phrase... laughing out loud as the punch line was delivered. Translated from Italian.
"Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress"takes place during China's Cultural Revolution and re-education program in the early seventies. Sijie Dai cleverly brings European literature to a remote Chinese village where 3 impressionable youths experience an education of their own. A wonderful story... the author himself having encountered Mao's philosophy first-hand. Translated from the French... there's a movie too.
Jonathan Franzen "Freedom" -At 560 plus pages, I admit I would have put this one down if I wasn't reading it for my book group. The main characters... a family whose flaws surface for all to see, are not likeable but as the reader learns why they are who they are, they become understandable. A meandering read with a lot to say about relationships, personal causes, forgiveness and what we sacrifice for freedom... the book as well as the characters, for me, came together in the end. After all is said and done... we are who we are.
"Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter" - More
than a mystery, Franklin's book is a tale of racism, ostracism, family
and the meaning of friendship. Told through the words of 2 characters
dealing with both their present and past situations, Franklin's tale
emerges slowly with twists and turns until the very end.
"Please Look After Mom" - Mom is missing and her life is revealed as family members search and remember their relationship with this woman. Written in simple prose, the dialogue speaks directly to the reader... a great book.
Jean Thompson "The Year We Left Home" - This book isn't for everyone, at times I wondered why I kept reading it... I questioned where the book was going. Finally I decided there is as much said between the chapters of this novel as in the chapters themselves. Without going into great detail, by way of her characters' self analysis of their lives, Thompson creates a portrait of a dysfunctional American family over a 30 year period. A book of family and the ties that bind.
"The Help" - Although racial prejudice in the 60's is the subject of this book, it is still a light read. Easy, yet satisfying... impressive as it is Stockett's first book.
"Bel Canto" - A book I would have passed over after glimpsing the cover... a mix of opera and militants holding hostages did not entice me. I thank the librarian who recommended it. A great read! I found myself surfing the airwaves for opera.
"Run" - Not Patchett's best... I listened to it on CD, perhaps it is a better read. A young African American woman gives her two young sons up for adoption. Later in life, as a single woman, she is raising her daughter on her own. The children are reconnected by a twist of fate which changes everyone's life.
"Lust for Life" - A biographical novel of the life of Vincent Van Gogh... one of my favorite painters, one of my favorite books. Historically accurate except for one page, when Stone imagines what one of Vincent's hallucinations was like. It was the only page I didn't like.
"The Agony and the Ecstasy" - Michaelangelo is the subject of Stone's ambitious, historically accurate account of the great sculptor and painter. A truly inspiring read. If you find yourself in Florence make sure you see his sculpture "David". Mind-blowing...
"Depths of Glory" - The painter Pissarro is revealed in this interesting biographical novel. Pissarro, though a passionate artist, doesn't have the angst filled life of either Van Gogh or Michaelangelo... thus the read didn't inflame my sense of creativity as Stone's other work did.
"The Listeners" Honestly, I can't think of a single person that I would recommend this book to. I'm not certain why I liked it, though I could put it down, it continually drew me back. A quick read... if you are one that likes all the answers immediately and the story to flow, it is not for you. If you enjoy a book that slowly peels away its layers, that makes sense in a round-about, nonsense meander... give it a try.
"Eleven" Not your regular read, yet not quite quirky. A novel about how we are all connected and how the decisions we make affects others in ways we would never imagine. An entertaining easy read.
Jonathan Safran Foer "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close"
- A young boy with a high IQ is the center of this Foer novel. Oskar
Schell sets out to discover the mystery of a key that belonged to his
Dad who was killed at the Twin Towers on 9/11. This book deals with
father/son relationships, death and forgiveness... it crosses
generations and oceans. Great read... one of a kind.
"Everything is Illuminated" - If you feel confused, keep reading... everything will be illuminated. Great movie, too!
Markus Zusak "The Book Thief" - Death narrates this WWII novel... Zusak creates a personality for Death which enables him to carry out his job. The story of the young girl it follows is both sorrowful and wonderful. A great book for teens and adults.
"The Life of Pi" - Winner of the Man Booker Prize, the author takes the reader across the ocean on a lifeboat with Pi Patel and a collection of zoo animals that are the only survivors of a ship which sinks while traveling from India to Canada. Clever lines with no wasted words.
"The Brooklyn Follies" - I listened to this on CD read by the author. The start is a downer... a man diagnosed with cancer returns to his old neighborhood to live out the last of his days... so glad I didn't eject this one as the book takes a twist and becomes positively upbeat. Well written with a great cast of characters.
Walter Mosley "The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey"
- 90 year old Ptolemy Grey is healthy in body, but slowly losing his
mental acuity. Frightened, frustrated and feeling alone, Ptolemy is
given the opportunity to finish up his unfinished business. As he
reviews his life and loves, the reader is taken on a journey into his
past and a delightful feel-good tale of his last days.
thriller of a book that will keep you awake long after you finish the
last page... creepy. Read the author's note at the back before you
begin... it gives the book an unexpected spin. 5 Stars for the book
overall... minus 1.5 stars for the end.
well paced psychological thriller, this page-turner will keep you
reading through the night. A hen party (the Brits equal to a
bachelorette gathering), a glass house, a remote area, and unstable
characters make for a chilling evening with a spine-tingling mystery.
The story unfolds as Nora, the main character, slowly recovers her
memory of what happened on a fate-filled weekend with a friend she
hasn't seen in years. The pace and the main character's loss of memory,
reminds me of "The Girl on the Train"... another book I'd recommend to
any mystery fan. 5 Stars for the book overall... minus 1.5 stars for
S. K. Tremayne "The Ice Twins" The
first half of this book captured me... I liked the pace and the mystery
behind the death of a young girl. But half way through the book my
resolve to finish it wavered as I became increasingly tired of the
mother character. I did read to the end which I re-wrote in my head,
and which I believe would have made a better book... but what do I know!
Lene Kaaberbol and Agnete Friis "The Boy in the Suit Case" A smart suspense filled mystery with a compassionate protagonist. A different take on the the genre... just a gem.
Paula Hawkins "The Girl on the Train" a
page-turner that makes the hours slip away. Reminiscent of Hitchcock's
Rear Window, the reader follows "the girl", Rachel, on her daily train
trip to London as she avoids dealing with the reality of her life.
Rachel's privy to the privacy of many back-yards on her ride and
conjures up lives for one particular couple that she envies. One day
she witnesses a disturbing scene which leads her down a dangerous path
as she tries to solve the mystery of a disappearance.
Lynne Truss "Cat Out of Hell" A dark, comic mystery... you'll never look at a cat in quite the same way! Breeze through this book in one or two sittings.
Keigo Higashino "Malice" - From early in the novel the reader knows the age old question of "whodunit?" How
he did it and why he did it is the answer we seek in this refreshing
approach to mystery. Follow the lead detective as he politely and
effectively solves the case.
Joel Dicker "The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair"
- A clever mystery that will keep you guessing until the very end.
Entertaining, and fun, and as an added bonus it takes place in NH!
Michael Robotham - Psychological Suspense Thrillers at their finest. Read them in order... Suspect - Lost - Bleed for Me - Say You're Sorry. I couldn't put them down.
Gillian Flynn "Gone Girl" - a unique murder mystery told from the perspective of the prime suspect and the victim. This book twists and turns with every chapter, with characters that aren't lovable, yet are America's favorites... the type that grab the spotlight. Good read.
"The Various Haunts of Men"... first in the series of Simon Serrailler mysteries, Hill's characters come to life and face death in a novel filled with twists and turns until its final pages. A true "who-done-it" this one worth your time if you're a fan of crime.
"The Pure in Heart"... not all crimes go unsolved while others, off-shoots of the original investigation, are solved along the way. Hill continues to develop her strong characters as well as introducing others into the series. They are compassionate in their strength, committed to their beliefs, strong in their opinions and like anyone, can be very flawed.
Gyles Brandreth Any of the Oscar Wilde series of mysteries... With the wit of Wilde gracing the pages, Brandeth's series of mysteries is endless entertainment. Historical characters as well as historical events form the basis of this marvelous collection.
Waiting for more from Higashino... Keigo Higashino
"The Devotion of Suspect X" - I found this book as perfect as the step-by-step cover-up a high school mathematics teacher plots as he stays ahead of the detectives investigating the murder of his neighbor's ex-husband. An intelligent thriller...
"In the Woods" - A psychological thriller that I couldn't stop listening to... Yes, I did the CD version. Enjoyed the reader, loved the book. You do have to get past the crime as a young girl is murdered, but the story line is complex, the characters rich.
"The Likeness" - I was disappointed in French's follow up thriller which I found long, 450 pages, and at times unlikely... how many times can an undercover detective make phone calls while sitting in a tree without someone discovering her. With that I wondered why I liked French's first mystery so much... perhaps it was because I listened to it, a different experience all together.
"The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" "The Girl Who Played with Fire" "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest" A trilogy of page-turners... fast-paced with great characters integrated into a complex story line. Lisbeth Salandar is "The Girl...", a tough, tattooed, ninety pound wonder that will wow you.
"Sun Storm" "The Blood Spilt" "The Black Path" Rebecka Martinsson, a tax attorney from Stockholm, is in the center of mystery and murder in these three thrillers from Sweden. Though each book stands alone, there are references to Rebecka's previous experiences that shape her psychology... read them in order.
Henning Mankell "The Man from Beijing" - A cross-cultural thriller running through generations of wrongs remembered. Complex and brilliantly rendered. Any of the Kurt Wallander mysteries... Yet another mystery writer from Sweden that I thoroughly enjoy. Read the Kurt Wallander series from the start... "Faceless Killers", "The Dogs of Riga", "The White Lioness" etc..
Historical Fiction More by Winsor... Kathleen Winsor
"Forever Amber" - England's answer to Scarlett O'Hara... Amber is unforgettable as well as unforgivable. Winsor expertly takes the reader through 17th century England. Great read.
Tracy Chevalier "The Girl with a Pearl Earring" - 17th Century Holland is the setting for this intimate, imagined creation of the artist Vermeer's most famous painting of a girl with a pearl earring. Chevalier's writing is wonderfully detailed.
"Falling Angels" - Edwardian London sets the scene for Chevalier's novel of life through the eyes of the innocent. Historically, sweeping changes are in the air as the suffrage movement begins to boil.
"The Lady and the Unicorn" - Art weaves its way through Chevalier's novel of forbidden love between the classes. Chevalier gives a strong sense of place and time in all of her works.
"Remarkable Creatures" - The place: Lyme Regis, England The time: The 19th century On the beaches of a seaside village fossils are discovered by a poor working-class girl, Mary Anning. The find sets the academic community in a whirl as the idea of extinction is introduced to the world.
YA - Young Adult
Mr. Vizzini himself... Ned Vizzini
"It's Kind of a Funny Story" - Craig's cracking under his own pressure to excel. Depressed and suicidal, Craig wisely checks himself into a local hospital before he decides to perform the "final check-out". Once admitted and committed he spends the next 5 days in the psychiatric ward where he suddenly fits in, gains a bit of fame, and makes some well-thought out life changing decisions. I love reading a good YA novel... wish we had them during my own teens.
"Teen Angst... Naaah" - For anyone who is a teen or was a teen... Vizzini writes honestly and openly about the ups and downs of high school life while he still was a teen. A quick read and a good laugh.
More from Spinelli...
"Stargirl" - Self-named Stargirl Caraway is truly an original. A teen comfortable in her skin... she does her thing and eventually turns her intolerant classmates into adoring fans. Yet notoriety can be a fleeting flash in the pan as Stargirl finds out.
"The Absolutely True Story of a Part-time Indian" - The awkward, teenage years of a Native American who doesn't fit in his culture or the white world where he goes to school, is the subject of this wonderful book. Heart breaking, poignant and funny... it makes you think while you enjoy the read.
"Flight" - Flight takes you on a ride through time with a teenage Indian boy searching for his own identity. As the young man is on the verge of committing a horrific act of violence, he is whisked away on a trip that will change his life for the good. Great book... great on CD...
Hornby in films...
"Slam" - Skateboarding Sam gets slammed when his girlfriend becomes pregnant, changing his life dramatically. His conversations with skateboard star Tony Hawk are funny and wise.
"A Long Way Down" - Four people, all suicidal, pick the same night and the same popular jumping spot to end their lives. Fate brings them together, thwarting their plans and changing their lives. Classic Hornby, funny and profound.
Saroo Brierley "A Long Way Home"
A five year old boy lost in the teeming streets of Kolkata (formerly
Calcutta), India miles from the peasant village where his family wonders
and awaits his return. Adopted and raised in Tasmania, the pull of
love leads him to search for his birth family despite the enormity of
the task. This true tale is mind-blowing and a great read.
Helen Macdonald "H is for Hawk"
There are many stages during the grieving process... and many ways of
getting through it. Helen Macdonald's account is raw and real as she
takes to training a Goshawk after the sudden death of her beloved
father. There's a wild atmosphere to this book, stirring up memories of
transitioning times in my own life. Solid book...
Michael Finkel "The Stranger in the Woods" Presented
without offering his opinion, Finkel lets the reader decide what to
believe about this real life hermit who frightened many, delighted
others and became the subject of many a campfire conversation over a
period of three decades. An interesting escape from everyday life... a
Candice Millard "The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's darkest journey" A fascinating account of Roosevelt's perilous journey down an uncharted tributary of the Amazon River, as well as an eye opening account of the man himself.I
would be remiss not to mention the Brazilian Army Officer, Rondon... an
explorer and cartographer with a dream of uniting the small villages of
Brazil so that all would benefit in commerce and education. A
page-turner of a read with a cast of characters where some stand large
against incredible physical and psychological challenges while others
fall short of the mark.Loved it!
Mary-Ann Tirone Smith
brings you back to sweet childhood in all its wonder and confusion.
She also slams the reader with a brutal murder and innocence lost.
Non-Fiction... a great read of an innocent time suddenly shattered.
"The Great Beanie Baby Bubble" by Zac Bissonnette
fascinating account of the building of a business, of marketing and
power, and of the madness that gripped bright, hard-working individuals
to obtain the next Beanie Baby on the market. An incredible story!
Howard Blum "American Lightning" A
wonderful read with larger than life characters including: Billy Burns -
known as the American Sherlock Holmes, Clarence Darrow - defender of
the common man, D.W. Griffith - the leading player in creating the movie
industry that we know today and it's power in politics and shaping
opinions. All this, as well as a cast of other characters playing their
part in what was dubbed as the Crime of the Century. Non-Fiction at its entertaining best!
Kenn Harper "Give Me My Father's Body" is
a well documented, dark and searing tale of U.S. imperialism cast in
the guise of scientific discovery. Yet another example of man's
inhumanity to their fellow being. Kenn Harper recounts the true and
tragic story of Minik, the New York Eskimo... a young boy who's taken
from his native Greenland to become a man without a home. Be sure to
read the interview with the author at the end.
Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz "Dr. Mutter's Marvels"
- Don't let the cover or sub-title fool you as it might lead you to
believe that Mutter is a quack. In reality he was a fore-thinking
physician working in the early half of the 18th century: the dawn of
modern medicine as we know it today. A remarkable read about a
compassionate, genius of a man during an innovative time.
Cary Elwes "As You Wish: inconceivable tales from the making of The Princess Bride"If
you're a fan of the family classic The Princess Bride, you stand in
prestigious company: President Clinton, daughter Chelsea and Pope Paul
John II are also big fans, with Clinton confessing that he's viewed the
movie perhaps 100 times. You'll enjoy the behind the scene challenges
faced by the cast and crew in the creation of the film. Cary Elwes
passion for this early project in his career comes through in his
telling of the tale.
Kristina Jones, Celeste Jones, Juliana Buhring "Not Without My Sister: the true story of three girls violated and betrayed" A
harrowing, personal account of three sisters born into The Children of
God cult. It is a heart-wrenching read and at times I wasn't sure I
could continue. But out of respect for these girls, now women, and out
of respect for the thousands who've suffered and most probably still
suffer at the hands of abusers... I finished it. These women are strong
and have a story to tell... their early lives, their escape and their
work to inform others of heinous abuse in the name of Jesus should be
heard by all.
Amanda Lindhout "A House in the Sky"
- Overcoming a rash of fears stemming from an unstable upbringing,
Amanda sets out to experience the world brought to her as a child
through her beloved National Geographic magazines. She becomes a
traveler and as her confidence grows with every journey, her desire to
work less and travel more intensifies. But how to support herself while
traveling is the question? The answer... become a free lance
photographer/reporter. An answer that leads her into the most dangerous
country in the world.
Despite the fact
that I detest (too strong a word?) book covers depicting major motion
pictures, and that the title is more aptly named "The Lost Child of
Philomena Lee" (which apparently at one point it was and with a much
better book cover), I found Sixsmith's account of Philomena and Anthony
Lee beautifully and sensitively written, as well as incredibly
interesting politically and socially. A great yet incredibly sad
story. (Spoke with my sister, the movie does not follow the book, so if
you are a book reader as well as a movie buff, you can enjoy them both
as they are quite different.)
Dick Lehr & Mitchell Zuckoff "Judgement Ridge" - A well researched, truly frightening account of the Dartmouth murders, Lehr and Zuckoff delve into the psychology of the two young men who committed this heinous crime. The opening chapter was the scariest piece of writing that I've ever read.
Susan Richards "Chosen by a Horse" - A wonderful read whether your a horse fanatic, a horse phobic, or something in between. Richards writes a memoir of her time with
Lay Me Down, an abused mare she adopted via a desperate call for help.
As Lay Me Down's physical wounds mend, Richards' childhood emotional scars begin to soften, opening up Susan to livea healthier more meaningful life.
You'll have to Interlibrary Loan this one... we don't own it.
"A Bolt from the Blue" - Follow the Jenny Lake Rangers, the search and rescue team working in the Teton Mountain Range, as they perform an unprecedented rescue of a party of climbers who were struck by lightning. A fascinating read... these men live their lives on the edge.
"Chasing Lincoln's Killer" - I listened tothe author read thefascinating account of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the manhunt that followed. I imagine reading this work would equal the audio experience.
"Life on the Outside"- The story of Elaine Bartlett, not an innocent, yet undeserving of a prison sentence she served for transporting drugs, just when the Rockefeller Drug Laws were going into effect. Her's is a tragic tale that did not end when she walked from prison walls. However Elaine salvaged all she could and all she experienced to become a spokes-person against an unjust law.
"Moonwalking with Einstein" - In my desire to better serve you, I picked up this book... I'm half way through and I'm astonished with the simple tricks I've learned to sharpen my memory. Hopefully the next time you ask me the name of an author or a book, the answer will easily slip off the tip of my tongue. I will tell you this... it is the first time I've added 3 new selections to my pick list where I did not have to refer to a note with the name of the title or author. Perhaps it's working!
"Escape from Camp 14: one man's remarkable odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West" - Read it and appreciate every moment of your freedom. Waste no time... live a meaningful life.
"Across Many Mountains: a Tibetan family's epic journey from oppression to freedom" - An amazing story, humbly told. Physically they cross the Himalayas, psychologically they surmount the pain of leaving their homeland to establish a life in the West, while spiritually they remain in tact. Truly an impressive family.
"The Psychopath Test"
Are psychopaths running the world? A bizarre, fascinating look at the
world of psychology... try this book, it's not what you think!
"So You've Been Publicly Shamed"
A book to make you stop and think before you share a thought, post a
picture, or send a tweet on the internet. It takes an honest look at
how we treat one another as human beings, and how far we can
thoughtlessly and easily play a part in ruining someone's life.
"Into the Wild"... follows Christopher McCandless, a bright young man with a promising future, as he disappears into the Alaskan wilderness. Questioning his parents way of life, society and the American dollar, Chris seeks answers by spending time in seclusion. A heart wrenching read... the movie was great, too.
"Under the Banner of Heaven" - A brutal murder in 1984 prompts Krakauer to investigate the roots of Mormonism. A disturbing yet fascinating read.
"Into Thin Air" - Krakauer's eyewitness account of the disastrous May, 1996 attempt to reach the top of the world... Mt. Everest.
Tracy Kidder "Strength in what Remains" - begins by following Deo through Burundi and Rawanda during the period of genocide in 1993. Miraculously Deo escapes to the United States. Against unimaginable psychological and physical odds, and with the help of some kind New Yorkers, he studies at Columbia University, becomes a doctor and gains his U.S. citizenship. Deo does not forget his roots or his people and returns to Burundi to help the most needy. An amazing story.
"Mountains Beyond Mountains" - Dr. Paul Farmer, a brilliant humanitarian who works with the world's poorest... the people of Haiti, is explored in depth by Kidder. Farmer appears in "Strength in what Remains" as a mentor to Deo.
Rawicz's only book... written as a voice for freedom. Slavomir Rawicz
"The Long Walk: the true story of a trek to freedom" - Just prior to the onset of WWII, Slavomir Rawicz was arrested by the Red Army, imprisoned and sent to a Siberian labor camp. A year later he and six other prisoners escape and begin a walk that takes them thousands of miles under life threatening conditions. This is their unforgettable journey... an amazing story, humbly told.
Pictured: the Arctic explorer Ernest Shackleton
"Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage" - A heart-pounding account of Ernest Shackleton's thwarted attempt to reach the South Pole on the ship The Endurance which became ice-bound, and how he and his crew survived in Arctic conditions for over a year. A memorable line from the book tells it all... "These are men."
Jeannette Walls "The Glass Castle"- A memoir of Ms. Walls life growing up with alcoholic, dysfunctional parents. Against all odds she has made a success of her life. "Half Broke Horses - a true life novel" - Regarded as a novel because Walls' grandmother, the subject of this incredible book, is dead and much of what is recounted is from the author's memory and stories told to her by her mother. Great book about an outstanding woman who was ahead of her time.
More from Junger...
Sebastian Junger "The Perfect Storm" - The hard lives of the hard working and playing fishermen of Gloucester, Mass. is expertly researched in the tragic story of the fishing boat the Andrea Gail, which was lost at sea during a "perfect" storm. A storm of such magnitude might occur once in a century... a great read.
Laura Hillenbrand "Seabiscuit: An American Legend" - It's the depression and America needs a hero... who should fill the void but a bandy-legged race horse with a desire to run and win. Paired with a much to large jockey, an alcoholic trainer and a depressed owner, Seabiscuit triumphs against all odds. A wonderful read and a great movie as well. "Unbroken"- The life of Louis Zamborini, a street urchin, Olympic runner and WWII prisoner of war, is told in this unforgettable true story of strength, courage and inner fortitude. Unbroken is unforgettable.
And another from Grann... David Grann "The Lost City of Z: a tale of deadly obsession in the Amazon" - A century ago the English explorer Percy Fawcett, along with his 18 year old son and his son's best friend, walked into the Amazon intent to discover the remains of a lost empire. The small party disappeared. The question of what became of them has led adventurers over the past 10 decades to brave the Amazon jungles... some of whom never returned to tell their tale.