Read in 2013
Books marked "LOGOS" are books I
read in the
book store on the day I work
Saving Baby: How One Woman's Love for a Racehorse Led
to Her Redemption by JoAnne Normile & Lawrence Linder, and Susan Richards
I may never watch horse racing again. I will never really enjoy it again.
JoAnne Normile had wanted horses all of her life, and finally had them. Because of
an agreement with the real owner of her horse, Baby (whom she raised since birth and had a
very special bond with), JoAnne got involved in the racing world, helping Baby fulfill his
genetic destiny. But when Baby was injured in completely preventable freak accident
during a race and had to be put down, JoAnne began to learn the dark side of racing--what
happens with all those horses that are "retired," the slaughterhouse companies
who pick them up, and the horror they endure before their final death.
Starting small, she began "re-homing"
those injured race horses and ultimately founded CANTER, a Michigan-based organization
that helped save horses from the nightmare of the slaughterhouse. Now CANTER is a
nation wide, thriving non-profit business which has saved thousands of horses from painful
deaths. A riveting read and important for any animal lover.
A portion of the proceeds from each purchase of Saving Baby goes to Saving
Baby Equine Charity, a horse rescue that saves Equines from the brink. Learn about horses
saved at: savingbaby.org
The Chaperone by Laura
I called the heroine of this book an "extraordinary
ordinary woman." The book starts when Cora Carlisle, then 36, married and mother of
two sons who are away for the summer, is asked to chaperone 15 year old Louise Brooks
(real silent film star, making this an historical fictional novel) on a one month trip to
New York City, where Louise has been offered the chance to study with the prestigious
Denishawn School of Dance.
Cora has her own reasons for wanting to go to New York, hoping to answer some questions
about her own past. The trip is one that will change the lives of the two women forever,
though they only see each other once more in their lives after the trip. The time line
takes the reader from the start of the 1900s up until 1986.
The story goes in so many different directions, it would do a disservice to describe them,
since part of the joy of discovery is in reading the book. I give it five stars.
Dave Barry's Worst Songs and
Other Hits by Dave Barry
This is a compilation of columns by humorist Dave Barry,
starting (and ending) with his worst songs (boy he sure doesn't like Neil Diamond!).
The good thing is that this is a list of worst songs that I've actually heard of.
In between the two columns on music, there are columns about Elvis fans (sweet and funny
both), a pilot for his Action Dog TV series, which is hilarious and oh so familiar, and a
host of other Barry columns which made the miles fly by while we listened to the audio
Fried Eggs with Chopsticks
by Polly Evans [LOGOS]
It took three days of working at Logos to finish this book, but it's worth it. Evans
is a travel writer and this book, subtitled "One woman's hilarious adventure into a
culture and a country not her own" talks about her travels around China, in an
assortment of vehicles, including enough adventures traveling by bus that I know I would
never want to get on a bus outside of a major city in China! She visited many of the
places where we were, in about 2003 (before the completion of the 3 Gorges Dam) and it was
interesting to get her perspective and to see how things changed by the time we went
there. She learns how to cope in a country where she does not know the language, and can't
even get hints from the written form. It's informative but also very funny and very
readable. Highly recommended. I'm sending my copy on to Char, who traveled
with us to China and will definitely enjoy reading it!
Things Overheard While Talking
to Myself by Alan Alda
I expected to like this book much more than I did. I had read Alda's book about never
stuffing your dog and found it very funny. This one...I dunno. I started out liking it,
but as he continued to quote more and more and more of his speeches to graduating clases,
it began to be more of the same, more of how wonderful I am because I have all these deep
thoughts. I found things that made me think, but I also would have liked it to be about 3
A Town Like Alice
by Nevil Shute [LOGOS]
I picked it up to read at the book store and was immediately drawn in by his writing
style. I marveled as much at the story as at the ability of a good writer to draw you in
immediately. This is not the sort of book that I would have picked up based on plot line.
A woman is captured with a bunch of families in Malaya in the 1942. The Japanese send the
men off to a prisoner camp, but have no facilities for women, who end up being marched
darn near all over Malaya looking either for a camp or passage to Singapore. There were 32
women at the start of the march and they lost half of them due to harsh conditions of
marching 20 or so miles a day in hot sun, with little to no food, and no place to rest
when they got to that night's destination. In one location Jean, the only unmarried woman,
meets Joe, an Australian prisoner who is on a work detail. They become friends. He thinks
she is married and she does not let him know otherwise. He ends up helping the women and
getting crucified for it. Jean thinks he died, but he did not.
Later, Jean discovers she has become an heiress and returns
to Malaya to help build a well for the women of the village where she spent 3 years until
the war ended. While there, she learns Joe did not die and she flies to Australia to meet
him. In the meantime, Joe has learned she was not married, after all, and flies to England
to meet her.
The rest of the book concerns Jean's impact on the outback
town near where Joe lives, how they finally get together, what happens to her fortune, and
the power of the human spirit. It is a book that never lost my interest and I marveled all
the way through how this was 99% due to Shute's writing.
Ramona by Helen Hunt Jackson
This was the first book I read for my new book club. I
remember reading it when I was in high school, but I don't know if I finished it.
Ramona is a young Mexican-Indian woman who was adopted by her father's sister-in-law on
the death of his wife (who had, herself, adopted her husband child by his Indian
lover). The young girl grew up unloved by her new step-mother, but loved by everyone
else who knew her. Thing go bad when she falls in love with a young Indian who is
working on the hacienda. They end up eloping and spend the next several years moving from
town to town, as the white man continues to push Indians off of their land and into
smaller and smaller reservations.
This is an ugly story of the destruction of Indian cultures
by the white man. The author hoped that it could do for Native Americans what
"Uncle Tom's Cabin" did for slavery. The book certainly has a legacy.
There is a town called Ramona in California, there is an annual outdoor play, which
is the longest running outdoor play in California (been running since about 1932).
The book is credited with preserving Old Town San Diego, so people could see where Ramona
was married. Someone said that the most influential woman in Southern California
history was a woman who never existed.
More than Petticoats: Remarkable
California Women by Erin H. Turner [LOGOS]
This is one of a series of women in history in various states. I was drawn in
because the first chapter is the story of Mary Ellen Pleasant, whom I knew all my life as
the infamous "Mammy Pleasant." Her story was fascinating and her title of
infamous was a slandar by a former friend and colleague. Others profiled include
Sarah Winchester, who built the famous Winchester Mystery House, dancer Isadora Duncan,
photographer Dorothea Lange (who took the most famous photo that represented the
Depression) and a host of others. Fascinating book.
Babi Yar by A.
This nearly 500 page book was written by a non-Jewish resident of Kiev, who was 10 years
old when the Nazis entered Kiev and slaughtered 33,771 Jewish men, women and children over
two days in September of 1941. The Nazis went on to kill gypsies, Catholics, people
from the mental hospital, and anybody they thought deserved to die. It is estimated
that ultimately 100,000 people met their deaths at Babi Yar.
The author is adamant that people need to know
what it was like to live in Ukraine during the German occupation and was eye witness to
many of the events which took place, and also includes eye witness reports of others who
survived the atrocities. This is not an easy book to read. The extent of the
torture and murder of so many people in the area that it will turn your stomach time and
time again as the shock hits you of how much worse it was than "just" the
massacre of so many innocent people . The author writes, "I cannot for the life
of me understand why, on this beautiful, blessed earth---among people equipped with brains
and the capacity to think, who are not just animal with instincts, among thinking,
understanding beings -- it is possible for people to indulge in such absolute madness as
war, dictatorship, police terror, to kill each other and to humiliate each other
I, Michael Bennett
by James Patterson
Sigh. I remember when James Patterson was
good. That was before he became a factory, churning out a book or two a year, each with a
Michael Bennett is the white counterpart to Alec Cross. Cross has 3 kids, Bennett has 10
(adopted). Both are widowers. Cross's kids are taken care of by his grandmother, Nana
Mama. Bennett's kids are taken care of by a Nanny, Mary Catherine, with whom he is kinda,
sorta involved, but not involved enough to prevent him from dating.
Both are policemen, Cross in DC, Bennett in NY. Both are expected to accomplish super
human feats. (From the cover of this book, "...now Bennett is torn between protecting
his hometown and saving New York City.")
This book is intermittently gripping, but then the sophomoric dialog and the ridiculous
plot elements are so bad that you have to stop and laugh. And you don't even have
the satisfaction of a conclusion, but must read the next book. No, thank you.
I don't know if Patterson actually WRITES anything any more, or if he just puts his name
on these books, but I'm getting very tired of picking up a book that looks like it's going
to be "old Patterson" only to discover that it's very, very bad new Patterson.
The Scarpetta Factor by Patricia
While not up to early Scarpetta, this was at least better than some of her more recent
books have been (James Patterson, take note!). Scarpetta is now the forensic analyst
for CNN and in that role, she must revisit an old case, which brings her into
collaboration with niece Lucy (who is less weird that she has been in recent books).
In honesty, I read this on our cruise and don't really remember a lot of details
about it, except that I was pleasantly surprised that Cornwell seems to have picked up
some of her old writing style. Marino is also likeable again.
Stolen Souls by
A young Lithuanian girl, thinking she is going to Ireland to work as a tutor for a Russian
family, teaching their children English, is actually sold into sex slavery in a Belfast
brothel. She manages to escape, by killing the man who is going to "break her
in." She seeks help from a guy who gave her his phone number and said he could
help her if she were ever able to get away, but he turns out to be something she never
bargained for. The whole thing starts a mob war among the Lithuanian thugs living in
Belfast and Inspector Jack Lennon is called in to solve the case, when all he wants to do
is spend Christmas Eve with his daughter. His efforts are hampered by someone in the
police department who is on the Lithuanian mob's payroll.
Actually a fairly good book, which I read when
someone brought it to the book store to donate.
Term Limits by
The book begins with the systematic assassination of three congressmen who are responsible
for holding up the president's budget. Idealistic senator Mike O'Rourke, a former
Navy SEAL thinks he knows who is responsible. Then two more congressmen are killed,
along with their bodyguards in a manner which seems completely contrary to the methods of
the first three assassinations. O'Rourke gets drawn into the action and as more and
more is revealed, secrets threaten to destroy the United States Government. The last
1/3 of the book is impossible to put down. And I wonder how many reading it can read
it without thinking of Dick Cheney and Karl Rove.
Wild Writing Women.
Stories of World Travel by lots of writers [LOGOS]
Fascinating collection of essays by women living on the wild side, everything from
watching lava on the Big Island in Hawaii to climbing high peaks to see wild tortoises, to
traveling across the deserted parts of China, alone, on a motorcycle, to confronting
ghosts in Scottish castles. Twenty-four essays, each interesting and each making me
glad I am only an armchair traveler.
Weird Things Customers Say in
Book Stores by Jen Campbell
I bought this as a "coals to Newcastle" thing to bring to the Logos owners.
The title really says it all, but here are some examles: "I'm looking
for some boooks on my kid's summer reading list. Do you have Tequila
Mockingbird?", "Do you have the Cliff Notes for 'The Poems of Jimmy
Stewart'?" "Where is your section on bat books. To build a bat
house." "I've forgotten my glasses. Could you read the beginning of this
book to me to see if I like it?" And on and on for 188 pages. It's great
When the Time Comes: Families
with Aging Parents Share their Struggles by Paula Span
I wish I had read this book a year before my mother had to move into Independent Living.
The author interviews many children and aging parents (using their real names) and
each chapter talks about the various scenarios from bring Mom and/or Dad home to live with
you through hired help in the parents' home, Assisted Living, and all the way to Nursing
Home and Hospice care. Since we had already made the decision and moved my mother, I
found some of the early chapters funny when I identified with things, and also found some
of the pitfalls that we fell for. I had to stop reading when I was into the Nursing
Home chapter because it is by far the most depressing and the one that nobody wants to
even think about, though reality tells you that sooner or later this may be the best
option for your parent.
There is a lot of heroism in this book, but it
focuses on the parent and not stress relief for the child. I haven't found the need
for that yet, but I can feel it is coming and it has been recommended that I find a book
that deals with this subject.
by Vince Flynn
Though this is the 10th book about hero Mitch Rapp, this book describes how he became a
"super agent" for the CIA and explores his first big project, dealing with
Islamic terrorists, I had not heard of Vince Flynn until my brother-in-law
recommended his books and I have to admit that if American Assassin is any indication, I
can hardly wait to get into the meat of the rest of the series. One thing I learned
from this book: I never want to be an assassin. Rapp's reason for wanting to
kill bad guys is that his fiancee was killed in the plane crash over Lockerbee, Scotland
and he wants revenge...but he wants to do it "legally," sorta.
Rapp starts in Istanbul, where he assassinates
the Turkish arms dealer who sold the explosives used in the Pan Am attack. Rapp then moves
onto Hamburg with his team and across Europe, leaving a trail of bodies. All roads lead to
Beirut, though, and what Rapp doesnt know is that the enemy is aware of his
existence and has prepared a trap. The hunter is about to become the hunted, and Rapp will
need every ounce of skill and cunning if he is to survive the war-ravaged city and its
various terrorist factions.
It also appears that all terrorists and bad guys
all over the world are in cahoots and both distrust, late, and yet rely on each other.
Dangerous Fortune by Ken
Walt liked this book. I didn't. I eventually
got caught up in the story, but really really wanted it to end. The story
centers around the Pilaster family, a powerful banking family in England and the murder,
committed while cousins Hugh and Edward, were at an uppity boys' school. You wanted
to choke Aunt Augusta, the matriarch who rules the family with an iron fist and will do
anything, including murder, to keep her place in society...and push her inept, alcoholic
son, Edward, into banking prominence. It's just a genre I don't really like and,
given that it's by Ken Follet, I expected something different, which is why I chose it in
the first place.
Uncle Daddy Will Not Be Invited
by David Gerrold
This is a powerful one-act play in which two men are planning their wedding. One is
more enthusiastic about the myriad details than the other. Things become tense and
revelations are made which could change everything, in a bad way or a good way. The
development of the conversation is masterful and the ending will have you in tears.
Understanding Dementia and Caregiving for Your Aging
Parents, A to Z by Ellen Gerst
I've started reading books about dementia and this one had some interesting and helpful
things to say.
The Cat Who Saw Stars by Lillian Jacson Braun
This is the 23rd in the "Cat Who..." books about newsman/amateur detective Jim
Qwilleran and his crime-solving cats Yum-Yum and KoKo. I have read a few of them and
they are nice for light, easy reading, but this one seems thinner, plot-wise, than most.
The mystery of the disappearing back-packer is solved almost immediately, then
there is the disappearance of the restaurant owner (murder? kidnapping?) whose solution is
almost anticlimactic...and then add the "visitors" (UFOs) that everyone believes
in...and can it possibly be closer to home than Qwill thought? The Cat Who books are
riddled with quirky characters and genteel situations but this one is too quirky and has
less meat than a can of cat food. My least favorite of all I've read.
Inferno by Dan Brown
Of course I had to read the latest Dan Brown as soon as it came out, but
halfway through the book I found I was very disappointed. Hero Robert Langdon wakes
in a hospital, not knowing where he is or why he is there. He discovers he has been
shot and has a head wound. But then things begin to escalate, when a woman comes to
kill him, his doctor is shot, and his other doctor spirits him out of the hospital the
back way. I read this on my kindle, which tells you what percentage of the book you
have finished and the first 50% of the book is a chase scene through Florence.
Fascinating, I guess, for the history revealed as you follow Langdon and his doctor trying
to escape from people they don't know, chasing them for reasons they don't understand.
Ahhh, but I was too quick to judge. Just when you think you can't go
through another secret passage in another famous museum, the story begins to rapidly
unfold and you are hooked once again. Following Dante's Inferno (you will find that
you want to read it before the story ends...or may feel like you have, after all the
talk!), Langdon is trying to solve a riddle that, if not solved, will cause a world-wide
calamity. But along the way there are such twists and turns. What is real and
what is not? Whom can he trust? And is everything what it seems to be or is nothing
what it seems to be?
This story starts in a city that I visited and ends in a city that I will
visit this year, so it had personal meaning for me! Despite my early feelings about
the book, it's a great read.
Outlander by Diana
I first read this book about 25 years ago and then read no other Gabaldon until
about 3 years ago. Having now finished the whole set, and no new one expected until
the spring of 2014, I decided to re-read the original (and will probably re-read the whole
series again). In this original book, Claire Randall slips through a cleft on a rock
in a circle of standing stones and finds herself in 18th century Scotland, eventually
entering into a forced marriage to Jamie Frasier to protect her from the evil Black Jack
Randall (a distant relative of her 20th century husband Frank Randall). Romance and
adventures abound. The nice thing about re-reading this original is discovering how
many foreshadowings of things to come appear. It was fun reading it with the
knowledge of all that comes in the next 7 books.
Murder Unscripted by Clive Rosengren [LOGOS]
Eddie Collins, like author Rosengren, is a sometimes actor who also has another
profession. For Rosengren, it's writing, for Collins it's being a part-time
investigator, who is happy to leave his current film gig (filming a Chubby's Chicken
commercial...we learn about "spit buckets") to investigate a murder on a movie
set. The victim turns out to be Collins' ex-wife, whom he has not seen in several
years. Through the investigation of the murder, we learn a lot about being on a
movie set, the behind the scenes Hollywood life, and the process of a murder
It's a short read (only 122 pages), but never feels contrived or rushed.
This is the author's first novel, after nearly 40 years as an actor, and shows
great promise for good things to come, as we follow Eddie Collins' career.
A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
I read this book after seeing a new musical based on it. The musical was nice, but
"something" was missing and I couldn't put my finger on what, so I went to the
source material, and realized that the "soul" of the story had not come
across to me in the musical. I started reading it on my Kindle, and then found it on
the Logos shelves when I worked this week and finished it there.
Sara Crewe is the daughter of Captain Crewe, an adventurer who is going
off to seek an even bigger fortune. He takes Sara out of India, where she has grown
up, and puts her in an English boarding school, run by a harridan, Miss Minchin, who at
first exploits Sara because of her fortune and then, after her father dies in the jungle,
searching for diamonds, she forces the now destitute girl into slavery at the school.
The book shows Sara's character and how she has the heart of a princess by
her kindness toward all, even after she loses all of her money. It is Sara's
ability to fantasize, tell stories, and make magical the most dreadful of situations that
is her salvation. We see her in incident after incident being selfless and generous which,
of course (since this is a children's story) is rewarded in the end.
Cannery Row by John Steinbeck
I started re-reading this book after my friend Lynn and I were on Cannery Row in
Monterey and decided to read it together. Then I became even more interested when I
visited the Steinbeck Museum in Salinas, CA, fulfilling one of my bucket list items.
This is one of Steinbeck's short stories and really if you want to talk plot, it is
about a few drunken ne'er do wells who want to throw a birthday party for a doctor they
all love. But this isn't about plot. It's about character development and word
pictures of the setting. It is Steinbeck doing what he does best. When we
visited the museum, I had just finished a section about the homeless who had taken over
sections of huge discarded pipes to live in, and how they had fixed them up...and in the
museum there is a section of pipe, decorated as described in the book. It brought
the whole thing to life for me.
Along The Way by Martin Sheen and Emilio
In 2012, Emilio Estevez wrote and directed (and had a small role in) a movie called The
Way, starring his father, Martin Sheen. It tells the story of a man whose son
dies on his first day walking the Camina de Santiago, an 800 km road from St. Jean Pied de
Port in the French Pyrenees to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. The man goes to
France to retrieve his son's body and decides to have it cremated and take it on the
pilgrimage himself. It is a voyage of discovery and in making the film Sheen
(whose real name--and still his legal name--is Ramon Estevez) and son Emilio had
their own voyage of discovery. At the completion of the movie, the two collaborated
on this book about their lives, separately and together. It's more than a Hollywood
autobiography (though it is that too), it's also a spiritual journey and it made me want
to watch the video, which I did just before finishing the book. I had hoped to find
out about making "The West Wing," which is not even mentioned in the
book, but I didn't miss it. The stories of the two men and their lives as father and
son is a good one and I highly recommend both the book and the movie.
The Sixth Man by David Baldacci
This is the fifth in the Sean King/Michelle Maxwell books (#6 is reportedly due to be
published in November 2013). The duo this time are hired to help in the
investigation of the case of Edgar Roy, an alleged mass murderer being held at a federal
supermax facility in Maine. Of course it can't be as simple as investigating the
murders of the six people the cops found buried in Roy's barn. More bodies start
piling up, starting with Roy's attorney, leaving Sean the lead attorney on the case.
The convoluted plot continues to roll out as they try to discover who killed the
attorney? why won't Roy speak? what is his secret? The investigation leads into the
highest levels of the federal government and surprises are met at every turn,
though, as with most of these books (by Baldacci as well as by others) there are parts
where you roll your eyes at the next surprise revealed. Another fun Baldacci
read. I hope the next one is out soon!
Pontoon by Garrison Keillor
This is a greatly expanded version of Keillor's popular "Tales from Lake
Wobegon" complete with the quirky characters and bizarre situations that we have come
to expect. Who else but Keillor could make a story out of a bowling ball-urn, a
hot-air balloon, giant duck decoys, a flying Elvis, and a pontoon boat. The wedding of the
decade (accompanied by wheels of imported cheese and giant shrimp shish kebabs)
competes with the funeral of the decade as madness and mayhem ensue. It does go on a bit,
but stick with it till Chapter 23, when you will be holding your sides laughing.
Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
A collection of essays by humorist David Sedaris, this based on his recent move to Paris
with his parther, Hugh. There are a lot of giggles in this book, as Sedaris attempts
to learn French, and introduces the reader to his rather bizarre family, including his
father, whose eating habits and practices are...unusual, at best! "Sedaris has turned
self-deprecation into a celebrated art form," writes an Amazon viewer and in so doing
becomes a writer with whom every "everyman" can relate! He speaks for all
of us non-celebrities!
An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon
I am bereft. I have now finished the 7th book of Gabaldon's "Outlander"
series...and the 8th book is not due out until Fall 2013. This book has Bree and
Roger in the 20th century while Claire and Jaime remain in the 18th century, partly in
"the colonies" and partly in Scotland, where Jaimie goes to retrieve his
printing press. There is war (the Revolutionary War battles following the
Declaration of Independence), love affairs, murder, intrigue, and all the stuff you expect
from Gabaldon. This book brings Lord John and his stepson (Jamie's real
son) into the story and the plot lines bring them closer and closer and closer until the
final confrontation. Claire and John become much better acquainted. Bree's son
Jem has the key to a treasure that everyone wants, and enough plot lines resolve and are
left dangling that I will, with the rest of Gabaldon's other fans, be panting for the next
book to be released..and I sincerely hope that the book and the audiobook will be
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
This was a book club book. A rather odd writing style that I didn't like a lot.
The whole story is told in mostly present tense from the point of view of a
disinterested observer. Rarely, throughout the ~300 pages do we get enough emotion
to actually care deeply about any of the characters. Gogol Ganguli is an
American-born son of Indian parents, who move to the US shortly after their arranged
marriage. Through the fate of his grandmother's letter, giving them the name they
were to name the child, being lost in the mail, Gogol's father gives him a temporary name
(which ends up being permanent) honoring his favorite author, the Russian Nicholai Gogol,
who had helped the father through many terrible periods of his life.
We watch Gogol grow up, and watch the parents integrating into the U.S.
culture, along with their Bengali friends. We get a good picture of the immigrant
life, through parties, foods, and the disconnect between the children and the immigrant
The second half of the book had a bit more emotional connection...but not
much. Given how disconnected I felt with the characters, I was surprised to find
myself a bit teary at the end.
Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo [LOGOS]
This was a book I'd been embarrassed to admit I wanted to read, but I certainly didn't
want to buy it, so I was happy to find it on the bookstore shelves when I worked.
I've always been intrigued by people's near death experiences, and especially seek
validation of "something" after this life when I began losing friends...and
children. This book isn't it. It is subtitled 'a little boy's astounding story
of his trip to heaven and back' and is written by his minister-father. While I buy
that little Colton may have had the experience of seeing his parents in the time while he
was undergoing surgery for a burst appendix (there are certainly lots of stories by adults
and children alike, describing things they can't possibly know), the whole "trip to
heaven" thing, sitting on Jesus' lap, Jesus wearing a gold crown with a jewel in it,
lots of gold and jewels around, Jesus riding a rainbow colored horse, etc., etc. are just
too much to swallow. The thing reads like a pastor's sermon to children to tell them
about God and heaven.
Colton was 4 when he nearly died and the "revelations" come out
over the next 3 years. What confuses me is that if you have a child who has this
amazing story to tell, why would you not record it? At one point the father
talks about Colton meeting other people in heaven who have died, but he has conveniently
forgotten the names Colton told him.
This book gets 5 stars on Amazon and is apparently very popular.
Sadly, I read it with a huge grain of salt. According to Colton, the only entrance
into Heaven is through Jesus, which discounts anybody of any other religious belief and
that just is not credible to me, though for those who find this book comforting, more
power to ya.
Buckingham Palace Blues by James Craig
Inspector John Carlyle is walking in Green Park, near Buckingham Palace, one night when he
finds a 9 year old girl, barefoot and crying sitting on a bench. She speaks minimal
English and when she asks if they are going to "f***k now" he takes her under
his wing, determined to find out her story. The story takes the reader behind the
scenes at Buckingham palace (a fascinating glimpse), exposes corruption in the British
police, and gives a heartbreaking introduction into the world of child sex trafficking in
I will admit that when the bodies began to pile up toward the end, I did
wonder how far this was going to go...seems that every good guy (and it wasn't often easy
to identify who was the good guy and who was the bad guy) who tried to help Carlyle with
his investigation ended up being killed in increasingly gruseome ways. But in the
end, I enjoyed the book very much.
Lie Down with Lions by Ken Follett
** SPOILER ALERT**
Poor Jane just can't pick her men right. First there was Ellis, with whom she has
been living in Paris, whom she leaves when she discovers he's a CIA agent, informing on
terrorists. So distraught is she that she agrees to marry Jean-Pierre, a French
physician, and move with him to Afghanistan to help care for rebel families holding out
against the Russian Army. They set up housekeeping in a small village, living
in the house at night and in the mountain caves in the day because of the Russian bombing
raids. They have a baby, Chantal. But then Jean-Pierre turns out to be a
Russian spy who has caused many of their Afghan friends to be slaughtered. Just at
the right moment, Ellis arrives to help get a treaty among the Afghan tribes so they can
receive US aid. Jane and Ellis pick up where they left off (in a very
steamy love scene), Jean-Pierre learns Jane has betrayed him. He and his Russian
partner, Anatoly, set off to find Jane, Ellis and the baby. The last 1/3 of this
book is a harrowing escape over impassable terrain, carrying a 2 month old baby, all the
while being hunted by Jean-Pierre and the Russians. It's a gripper, as are all
My Antonia by Willa Cather
This was the classic fiction book for our book club, a book I'd known about since
childhood, of course. I'm not sure quite how to review it. It is a beautifully written
picture of life on the Nebraska prairie in the early 1900s. It's a lovely character study,
a lovely study in lifelong friendships and how lives change and move in different
directions. Antonia's indomitable spirit in the face of adversity sets a wonderful example
(as evidenced by how she has raised her children, and how they view life).
However, I guess I have had too many action/adventure novels under my belt. I felt it
tedious going. I finished it. I didn't dislike it, but if I had been reading it for fun, I
probably would not have finished it.
Interestingly, I have always heard it as AntoNEEa, the book club says AnTONia, and the
guide in the book says it should be pronounced ANtonia. I find the "proper"
pronunciation as impossible to roll out of my mouth comfortably.
Cesar's Way by Cesar Milan [LOGOS]
I read this over two weeks at Logos. It's not a book that a lot of people are
interested in buying, apparently! I have never really bonded with Cesar Milan, but this
book, in which he details his childhood, how he came to learn to love animals, and his
work with them, which has resulted in his popularity as "The Dog Whisperer" was
really very good and though this is not a "how to," he talks in depth about the
animal thought process and how your dog perceives your actions...how we are not doing our
dog favors by loving them so much and so openly. I did learn a lot, but sadly there
is no chapter on how to try retraining an excitable dog when the dogs have all been in
your life for many years and there are THREE of them, making it impossible to do
one-on-one training! In any event, a useful book, recommended especially for people
contemplating adding a new dog to their life! (Heck, even Oprah had to
learn how to stop being submissive to her dog!)
Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon
Oh my god...there is only one more book left in the Outlander Series.
Whatever will I do? I "read" these as audio books, so it takes a long time
to get through an >1400 page book covering the story of the time-traveling Frasier
family, Claire, immigrant from the 20th century to 18th century Scotland, where she meets
and falls in love with Jamie Frasier, conceives a child, returns to the 20th century, has
the baby, returns 18 or so years later and has now taken up permanent residence, first in
Scotland (eventually with daughter Brianna and her husband Roger) and then in the new
world in pre-Revolution days. I liked this book much better than the
previous one, "The Fiery Cross," which focused more on politics, battles, etc.,
and less on home and hearth. This one is almost like a succession of short stories,
one building on the other. I found it kept my interest better and included medicine
in the 18th century, rape, kidnapping, incest, witchcraft, murder, sex, and enough of
history that we get a feeling for what was going on in other colonies as the Continental
Congress was drafting and voting on the Declaration of Independence. The ending was
such that it made me immediately start listening to the next book, "An Echo in the
Bone," which is slightly more than half the size of this one, so in the sadly
foreseeable future, I will be finished with the currently-written Outlander adventure and
will sink into Gabaldon withdrawal and grief.
The Compassion of Animals by Kristin von
This is a collection of stories about animals who have done extraordinary things out of
love, compassion, concern for, etc. humans. Mostly dogs, several cats, and a few
oddball types like pigs, horses, cows, and an iguana. There are animals who have
saved people from drowning, burning, being crushed by animals, natural disasters, attack
by bad guys, etc. We find an iguana can be surprisingly affectionate and caring when
its owner is ill. There is a tear-jerker on almost every page, so read with tissues
at the ready.
The Winner by David
People think winning the lottery is the best thing in the world. Not so LuAnn Tyler,
who is 20, beautiful, dirt-poor, and living in a trailer with her deadbeat boyfriend, the
father of her newly born daughter, Lisa. Then she gets a call from a mysterious
"Mr. Jackson" who offers to make her rich beyond her wildest dreams. All
she has to do is buy a lottery ticket and he will take care of the rest. LuAnn is
also a good girl, so, though tempted, she doesn't want to do anything illegal, but
circumstances beyond her control make her change her mind and she accepts Jackson's offer.
She wins the $10 million and, according to her agreement, leaves the U.S. forever.
Ten years later, tired of running, she sneaks
back into the U.S. and sets off a series of events that involve Jackson, and a host of
people he kills trying to keep his secret from coming to life.
This Baldacci was definitely readable, but
toward the end, the events seemed a bit unbelievable. Still, I enjoyed it very much.
The Floor of Heaven
by Howard Blum
This was the non-fiction book we were reading for our book club, but it reads like a
fiction novel. It is subtitled "A True Tale of the Last Frontier and the Yuon
Gold Rush" and centers on 3 men whose lives, after many, many pages, intersect in
Alaska. George Carmack, is a Marine deserter, whose discovery sets off the stampede
to the Yukon, "Soapy" Smith is a flamboyant western villain, and Charlie Siringo
is a cowboy turned Pinkerton detective named Charlie Siringo. This was an
exceedingly readable book, though, since it is non-fiction work, when the end
comes, it's rather anti-climactic. The book, in the very end, suffers from the lack
of suspense that you would find in a work of fiction. But I found the notes about
research almost as interesting as the book itself, since Blum had lots and lots of
material at his disposal, but freely admits that there is a lot of fiction and
self-aggrandisement in the personal memoires, so his book is as accurate as it can be, but
how true it is, will never be known!
Miracle by Danielle
Logos got in a huge number of Danielle Steel books. She is one of my mother's
favorite authors and I have avoided the books like the plague, but decided that I would
read one this week. I chose the thinnest book (and it was large print to boot).
It was an easy 3 hour read and OK. The story of a widower getting his life
back together, with a couple of ther people, the widow next door and a handyman who is
hiding a secret. A lot of the book revolved around boating, since the wealthy
widower is having a sailboat built for him in Amsterdam, with the idea that he will sell
his house and retire to the boat for the rest of his life. The whole thing is pretty
predictable (except for the sub plot about the handyman), and an enjoyable, if mindless
The Bleachers by
John Grisham [LOGOS]
This is an unusual Grisham book in that it has no courtroom drama, no crime, no nothing
like that. It tells the story of Neely Crenshaw, former high school football star of
the "Messina Spartans." Neely hasn't been back home in a very long time,
but his former coach, Eddie Rake, one of the most victorious coaches in high school
football history, is about to die and many of the players he coached over his career have
returned to Messina to hold a bit of a death watch.
When I started this book, I thought a lot about Friday
Night Lights and the relationship between coach and player in that wonderful TV
series, but Coach Rake was nothing like Coach Eric Taylor. Rake ruled
through intimidation and downright cruelty and his players hated him...but years later, as
they sit in the bleachers of Rake Stadium (so named after the coach was fired for causing
the death of one of his players), they realize how much he shaped their lives.
As the players talk, long-held secrets are
revealed and help create a better rounded picture of not only the coach, but also the
players who worked under him for many years.
This is a quiet sort of a book, a "coming
home" sort of a book, and a good read.
The Learned Ladies
This was the first book I read for the Woodland Shakespeare Book Club, to which I was
invited this coming week end. It is a play, translated from the French. What's
interesting is that I found the text on line for free but the problem was that I couldn't
put bookmarks in it, so whenever I put it down, I had to search through the book trying to
find my place again. I finally gave up and bought a Kindle book and it was a totally
different translation, much more "colloquial" and written entirely in verse
(which I suspect is more in the style of Moliere anyway).
Very funny play about two daughters, one of whom
rejects men and prefers to lead an intellectual/philosophical life while the other is in
love with a man and wants to marry. The struggle between feminism and the typical
housewife could have been written today.