Books Read in 2016
I lost my original copy of
this page, so had to recreate it.
I couldn't find
reviews for all
of the books.
Toward Bethlehem by Joan Didion
Return to Freedom by Alec
Fans of Garrison Keilor's "Lake Woebegone"
stories will love this book. It has the same comfortable home-spun narrative
by a writer who knows how to use words beautifully. This is Book 2 in
Clayton's "Freedom Trilogy" (sadly, I did not read Book 1 first). Residents
of the small Mississippi town of Freedom have been severely affected by a
hurricane, which brought death and destruction, but the town rebuilds and
the bulk of the book takes place a year after the hurricane and follows
principally the lives of three families, who move into a newly built condo
as they try to get their lives back together.
There's the movie idol coming home for a break from the hurly burly of
Hollywood, the Preacher with a Past who runs a very successful group for the
town's teens, a coffee shop owner who learns a lot about her sexuality, a
traveler in a trailer who changes her life, a melodramatic teenager, a
grieving family with an alcoholic mother, and a parade of other unique
Characters are well drawn and well fleshed out so that you really get to
know them, though there are so many of them you sometimes feel like you need
a cast of characters to refer to. As in Lake Woebegone, a lot of the action
takes place at the town coffee shop, a good place to gossip about your
neighbors. The Big Scandal doesn't take place until about 3/4 of the way
through the book and while riveting, doesn't last long, but changes everyone
Talking to Alzheimer's by
Memory Man by David Baldacci
This must be my month for school shootings.
A mass shooting at a school is at the heart of this story, and when I
finished it and started another book (by Jodi Picolt), that also starts with
a mass shooting at a school. Amos Decker returns from a police stake-out to
find his wife, brother-in-law, and 6 year old daughter slaughtered in their
home. This sets off a tremendous slide into oblivion as he quits his job,
eats himself into gargantuan proportions, loses his home and becomes a
street person, working occasionally as a private detective. Because of a
terrible accident he endured when hit during a high school football game,
his brain has changed and he is no longer able to forget anything, so every
detail of his family's murder is as live as when he first discovered them.
More than a year later, a man walks into the police department and confesses
to the murder of Decker's family. At about the same time there is a mass
murder at the local high school and Decker is asked to help with the
investigation. As he works the case, he begins to suspect the massacre and
the murder of his family are two connected events. The search for the killer
(or killers) takes turns you would never expect before the case is solved.
Girl in the Spider's Web by
"...we live in a twisted world where
everything, both big and small, is subject to our surveillance, and where
anything worth money will always be exploited." If there is ever a thought
which hits home, it's this one from this book. By the time you finish
Spider's Web, you'll be convinced that computer hacking is child's play and
that somehow not only Big Brother, but Big Sister and the rest of the family
know everything you do every day. It will make today's headlines seem much
Lagercrantz has written the next book in the late Stieg Larson's Millennium
series, which began with "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo." It has been so
long since I read the first 3 books that I can't really say whether he
captured Larson's flavor or not. I just know that once you get past the
endless names of Swedish streets that you can't pronounce and gloss over the
technicalities of how everything in the world (it seems) gets hacked,
there's a darn good story here, which when it finally grabs you, keeps you
reading until you've finished.
This time it begins with the murder of Frans Balder, who is on the verge of
a discovery that will change the world, which he is about to reveal to
Larson's hero Mikael Blomkvist, Sweden's most popular newspaper columnist,
when he is murdered. As the investigation moves forward, all seems to rest
on Balder's autistic son, who holds the key to uncover everything, locked
away inside his brain. As usual, Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander communicate
via computer and together they are drawn into a world of spices, criminal,
assassins, and Lisbeth's own sister. And Lisbeth discovers that the young
boy is not as uncommunicative as people have thought, but is actually
brilliant, perhaps on a level of her own brilliance.
A promising start for continuance of the Millennium series.
Merle's Door by Ted Karasote
Home by Harlan Coben
Myron's back! Win is Back! Esperanza and
Big Cyndi are back! I don't know if this is the start of more Myron Bolitar
books (I thought the last one was The Last One), but this one was wonderful,
and such a great welcome back to old friends. Under an overpass somewhere in
London, Win sees a boy who looks very much like one of two 6 year olds who
had been kidnapped 10 years before (one of them was his nephew). He calls
Myron to help search for the boys, which takes the pair into the dark world
of child trafficking in England and to all sorts of unexpected places. So
much fun to watch them at work again, chasing guys like "Fat Gandhi" through
the dark underbelly of London and other spots around the world, unraveling
the mystery of where the boys have been for 10 years...and could they find
the second boy, after rescuing the first. The epilogue to this story is one
of my very favorite Coben chapters ever, but don't try to read it first or
you might not understand it at all.
The Cat Who Went to Paris by
This has nothing to do with the delightful
"Cat Who..." mysteries by Lillian jackson Braun. This is the feline
equivalent to "Merle's Door" by Ted Kerasote, which I am also reading. Peter
Gethers, an American publisher, screenwriter and author of television shows,
films, newspaper and magazine articles, and novelist; the author of several
books, was a self-confessed cat hater until he was given an adorable
Scottish Fold kitten, whom he called Norton (after Ed Norton of *The
Honeymooners*). It was love at first sight and the two became inseparable.
Gethers even carried the light-weight cat around New York in his pocket and
later n a special bag he could wear over his shoulder. As Merle, this was a
special cat, who understood more and behaved unusually, made friends
everywhere. The book is an easy read and just a delight reading about
Norton's and Gethers' adventures together. I was afraid I would be reduced
to tears at the end, but fortunately it is not Norton who dies.
You Gotta Get Bigger Dreams by
I made a huge mistake with this book. I saw
Cumming on TV talking about this compilation of snapshots (believe me, he's
no "photographer"!) and anecdotes from his life. It sounded like fun and I
decided to order it. I thought I was ordering the real book, because I knew
a book of photos on my old, old Kindle would be terrible. I waited and
waited for the book to arrive but it never did. When I went to check on the
order, I discovered I had accidentally ordered the Kindle version. I wasn't
about to reorder the regular book, so I read the whole thing in one
afternoon at the book store.
As I figured it would be, it's a crappy collection of photos--too small, too
fuzzy, too dull, black and white. You can see most of most of them, but it
wasn't what I hoped it would be -- my own stupid fault. However, the stories
he tells are no surprise that they are well written, clever, sometimes bawdy
telling tales of downright debauchery, but then I would have been surprised
if they did not. That sort of thing does not bother me. It's a fun backstage
look at TV and Broadway, and some warm stories of the people in his life
that he loves or has loved. The stories of his dog were particularly sweet.
Mostly, I found it an entertaining read. Now I want to find it in a real
book store and flip through the photos to see what I missed!
Being There by Jerzy Kosinski
I saw this movie years ago, when it first
came out and was pleased to get the audio book. I thought it would explain
the unusual ending in the movie.
Chance has lived his entire life in the home of a wealthy man. He has his
own apartment in the basement and he takes care of the garden. It is hinted
that he seems to be slow mentally. He has never left the house. When the man
dies, the executors of his estate are confused by Chance. There is no record
of him ever living in the house, and all they can tell him is he must leave.
All he knows of the world is what he has seen on television. As he wanders
rather aimlessly, there is an accident and he is hit by the limousine of a
wealthy man, whose wife brings him home to recover They understand him to
say his name is Chauncey Gardner and his simple responses to questions,
especially when he talks about a garden (which listeners take as a metaphor
for life) he is seen as brilliant. Ultimately this is a satirical look at
American media and how we are fooled by it. But in the end, it differed
significantly from the movie, so I never did find out what the end of the
Transfer of Power by Vince
Vince Flynn was a master of suspense and
action. What a loss to the reading world his premature death in his mid-40s
of prostate cancer. Flynn's hero is Mitch Rapp, a CIA counterterrorism
operative, who saves the world in each book. In this book, the White House
is captured by a group of terrorists. The president is hustled off to the
famous "bunker" but many innocent civilians are taken hostage. The
terrorists set up bombs all over the While House and bring in a safe cracker
to get into the bunker (which will take a few days). With the assistance of
a former White House employee (now retired), Rapp moves through the White
House trying to free the President and keep the hostages safe, but a
high-level government person is working against him.
This book keeps you on edge throughout most of it and I give it highest
The Girl on the Train by Paula
I saw the first trailer for the move made
from this book and figured that I'd better hurry up and read it before I
learn too much from buzz about the movie. This book has been compared to
Gillian Flynn's "Gone Girl" and I guess I can see the similarities. "Gone
Girl" tells the story from two points of view, the girl who disappeared and
her husband, and the closer it comes to the denouement the more intense it
This book is told from the point of view of 3 women, Rachel, Megan, and
Anna. Rachel rides the train to London every day because she is embarrassed
let anyone know that she was fired months ago for coming to work drunk. Her
train passes by a certain house and she builds a fantasy around the man and
woman who live there, creating a fantasy life for what she assumes is the
happy couple she sees through the windows and on their deck. She is
interested in them because a house nearby is the home of her ex-husband and
his new wife (Anna) and Rachel is still in love with her ex, Tom, and
determined to get him back.
When Megan disappears, Rachel has an uneasy feeling that she knows something
about the disappearance, but was very drunk that night and can't remember
what happened. She intrudes herself into the investigation by giving the
police what she thinks is important information.
Rachel's mostly unsuccessful battles with alcohol make her a totally
unbelievable witness, and a nuisance for both Tom and Anna, as well as a
support for Megan's husband Scott, whom she allows to think she was a
confidante of Megan.
The suspense builds slowly but inexorably and I was glued to my seat for the
last quarter of the book as the plot twists and turns in all sorts of
unexpected directions. I'm glad I read it before seeing more about the movie
(which I probably don't want to see, now that I know that plot!)
Caught by Harlan Coben
I don't know if my problem with this book
was the book itself or the narrator of the audio version. It certainly is an
intriguing story, finding a young girl who has disappeared, but the plot had
more twists than a zig zag road through the mountains. Not that this is a
bad thing. It certainly kept me reading. But in the end, this was not my
favorite Coben book, though it was a nice surprise to find several
characters from the Myron Bolitar series popping up to help move the story.
The original disappearance leads to the suspicion of a plot against a bunch
of roommates from Princeton many years ago, all of whom became successful,
all of whom underwent devastating rumors which ruined their businesses. The
two events are connected, but I didn't figure out till the end why.
Stick to Drawing Comics, Monkey
Brain by Scott Adams
Scott Adams is the cartoonist who creates
Dilbert. This is a book of over 150 pieces, I think from his Blog. Reviews
on the back cover compare him to Dave Barry and say he is almost as funny. I
have read Dave Barry and he's OK, but I've never found him laugh out loud
funny, which I did with Adams' book, many times in the 150+ pieces, on
everything from lunar real estate to serial killers, not to mention
politics, religion, dating, underwear, alien life, and the menace of car
singing. The chapter on "My History Learning" is very funny, talking about
Jesus turds. And his take on the presidential election is perfect, if
depressing: "We're judging how a candidate will handle a nuclear crisis by
how well his staff creates campaign ads. It's a completely nonsensical
Third Helpings by Calvin
The capsule reviews on the back of this
1983 book say things like "this is the quintessential book for people who
love to eat...and laugh." and "You'll laugh out loud."
Well...maybe people were more easily entertained in 1983. I didn't laugh out
loud. Not once. I did smile several times. It's a quick, fun read (that I
could finish in a day at the book store) which cover such things as the
reason for replacing the Thanksgiving turkey with spaghetti carbonara, how
to read menu Japanese for traveling to Japan, and an exhaustive comparison
review of carnival fair, mostly Anthony Bourdain's favorite food--tubed
meat. It was a fun read, but not side splittingly funny. Maybe so many
similar books have been written since 1983 that it just pales in comparison.
Phantom of Manhattan by
Ever wonder what the Phantom did after
Christine dumped him to marry her handsome suitor? Well, this book answers
that question. In fact, it begins before his years underground, in the Paris
Opera House, introduces us to the woman who changed his life, and takes us
along on his journey to the United States, where he develops an empire and
becomes the Donald Trump of his day (all through a surrogate, so he never
had to appear in public). The woman who changed his life very early, also
changes his life at the end of her life and gives him, perhaps the greatest
gift anyone had ever given him. A fun, fairly short read.
With a Feather in my Nose by
Definitely dated but a delightful story
behind the Good Witch of the North. Don't look for any Oz trivia. It is
"covered" in one paragraph, but you'll learn a LOT about Florenz Zigfeld. I
God Save the Child by Robert P.
This is Book 2 in Parker's Spencer series
(only 25 more to go). Spencer is contacted by Mr. and Mrs. Bartlett,
distraught over the disappearance of their 15 year old son, Kevin. They want
to hire Spencer to find him. There are all sorts of problems, writing-wise,
with this book. There is immediate animosity with the police who threaten to
arrest him if he interferes with their investigation, for no reason, he
never asks the parents anything personal about the boy and little things
like that. But let it pass. The plot is good. Parker goes into
excruciatingly complete detail about every scene. By the time you've
finished three chapters, you are convinced you could find the kitchen and
brew yourself a cup of coffee just by having read the description of the
house. But let that pass, too. It became annoying, but the plot is good.
The Bartletts are not going to win Parent of the Year award. Once having
hired Spencer, Mrs. Bartlett is more concerned about her personal
appearances and social engagements than hearing about her son. In fact, when
Spencer finds where the boy is and gets Mrs. Bartlett to come with him to
pick Kevin up, her first response is "I can't leave the house looking like
this" and has to go change and put on fresh makeup. At one point a murder
takes place and a body of a friend is found in the living room of the
Bartlett home. Mrs. Bartlett's first response is "Oh no! I have 65 people
coming for a party tonight!" (bear in mind she is still without her son at
However, the party scene had one of my very favorite comments about a mess
following a party: "the detritus of jollity." I must work that into my
Despite my complaints about the writing, the story kept me reading for 3
hours until I finished it.... It has a little sex, a few drugs, some rock
and roll, some bad guys, some good guys who turn out to be bad guys and in
the end Kevin turns up...but definitely not the way anybody expected.
Airframe by Michael Crichton
I had a weird relationship about this story
of the investigation of the accident of a big airplane that killed 3 people
and wounded 56 more. There was a point when I was going to start this review
warning people that if they read the book, they might never fly again, since
it covers in minute detail the little things that can affect the plane's
stability (one was a bent screw). There are also lots and lots of charts of
technical stuff, which I admit to having just skimmed over. The book is
actually two stories, the story of the airline trying to figure out what
caused the problem, and the TV show that wants to do an expose on how unsafe
the airplane is. Fascinating to read the mindset of the TV people, who could
care less about learning the problem, but want to exploit the
sensationalism. In the end, I have to admit that I felt a lot safer about
flying than I did halfway through the book, though I suspect it will stay
with me for a long time.
Still Alice by Lisa Genova
Found by Harlan Coben
Seconds Away by Harlan Coben
The first Mickey Bolitar book ended with
such a cliff hanger that I had to immediately order the second one, which I
did...and I read it all in a day...and then immediately ordered the third
(and final, thank goodness) book. "Seconds Away" continues Mickey's search
to learn about his father and to find out more about Bat Lady and her secret
past. Myron has a slightly bigger role in this book and Mickey is surprised
to learn he has been asked to be the bodyguard for a famous celebrity, who
figures more prominently in Mickey's life (and past) than he ever imagined.
While continuing to search for the Butcher of Lodz, the mystery consuming
Mickey and his friends is the shooting of their friend Rachel, which leads
them into a drug smuggling ring and, again, aids the police in the solving
of a crime. At the same time Mickey is trying to get on the basketball team
and being bullied terribly. If it isn't threats by gun, it's threats by
fellow students. Mickey just can't win.
Again, this book ends at a spot where you absolutely cannot resist buying
the third book to figure out how it is all going to end, which I figure I
will be doing today.
Shelter by Harlan Coben
Broadway Tails by Bill Berloni
When I was doing research on a recent
version of Legally Blonde which was opening at Sacramento's Music
Circus, and which I would be reviewing, someone told me that a member of the
original cast was coming out of retirement to do this show one last time. It
was Chico, the Chihuahua who had been the original "Bruiser Woods" and he
had been trained by a guy named Bill Berloni.
I did a little research on Berloni too and found that he is "the" guy to go
to if you need an animal trained for stage work. I also discovered he had
written this mini autobiography, 243 pages of behind-the-scenes theater
stories in a career that spans more than 30 years (and which won Berloni a
special Tony recently for his contribution to theater on Broadway).
It turns out to be a fascinating book. At 19 he was part of the backstage
team for the about-to-be launched original Annie, with Andrea McArdle.
He was given the task to go and find a "Sandy" for the show. He rescued the
original Sandy literally from the jaws of death, as he was about to be
euthanized (and thus began a career-long habit of using rescue dogs for his
shows, and then finding good forever homes for them). He knew nothing about
dog training, but somehow he got a good dog, he worked on instinct and the
show was a rousing success.
The book details many of the animals you have loved over the years from dogs
to cats to birds to even a pig, a couple of lambs and some rats. It's a
great read. The thing that leaped out at me on so many pages is how much he
had to fight for cooperation from surly stage managers and demanding
producers. He would arrive at the theater and find he had no dressing room
and that it was too expensive to have rehearsal for the animals...but they
were expected to be perfect. In the process he met and married his wife and
they now have a farm which is a kind of animal sanctuary (much like Jon
Stewart and his wife have). This book was a lot of fun and I enjoyed reading
it. I also learned a lot about the workings of theater...and here I thought
I already knew a lot!
Road to Little Dribbling by
Years ago, Walt and I were in Cambridge,
England and I saw a display in a book store window. The book was Bryson's
"Notes from a Small Island," a book he wrote driving around England, where
he and his family had lived for many years, for one last look before
returning to the US. Walt and I were driving around England and Bryson's
book became our most delightful tour guide, as he visited many of the spots
where we visited. Bryson is the master of the little known fact about things
you never realized. In this new book, he is taking another tour of England
to see how it compares with his first book. As in "Notes," this one is chock
full of information you didn't realized you wanted to know and things about
people you never heard of before. Like Thomas Pritchard, who designed the
first iron bridge in the world, in Shropshire. Pritchard had never done
anything in cast iron, because nobody had before, yet he never got to see it
because he died before it was finished.
I also leaned about Building B30 at Sellafield, which is "the most hazardous
building in Europe." It and the building next door are filled with slowly
decaying fuel rods and contaminated hunks of metal and machinery.
But mostly, this book is filled with tales of marvelous vistas, beautiful,
walks, quiet beaches, quirky locations, eccentric people, and quaint little
towns you have probably never heard of but suddenly desperately want to
visit. And who knew that more people are killed in England by cows than by
This book celebrates the best...and the worst of Bryson's adopted country.
It's a great read.
Secrets of the Savannah by Mark
and Cordelia Owens
The Blackbird Papers by Ian
Private by James Patterson
Finally another book by Patterson
that I liked and didn't roll my eyes at. Jack Morgan, who inherited an
investigative agency and several million dollars from his incarcerated
father has turned the business into a thriving one. He is in the middle of
investigating a big NFL bribing scandal and a serial killer on the loose
murdering school girls when his best friend's wife is found murdered in her
bedroom and the police suspect her husband, so Jack sets out to prove his
Somehow all three threads weave together along with Jack's evil twin who is
out to destroy him. Paetro has developed as a story teller and it's nice
that Patterson lets her do his work for him.
All the Light We Cannot See by
I read this for book club...and then found
out I had read the wrong book, but it was a good mistake because I enjoyed
this book so much. It's totally not what I expected from what I had read
about it. It tells the story of two young people growing up in the waning
days of World War II. Marie Laure is a blind 14 year old, living with her
grandfather after the death of her parents. Warner is an electronically
talented orphan living in a mining town in Germany whose expertise with
electronic gadgets wins him a place in the brutal Hitler Youth.
Chapter by chapter, the book follows each character's life, through the war,
the bombings, the atrocities, the terror. Their lives intersect briefly in
Saint-Malo in France, where Marie Laure has lost everyone in her life and
Warner is realizing that Germany is about to lose the war and he will
probably be killed. The meeting changes both of their lives, but not in any
way I would have predicted.
Doerr's writing is what makes this read so enjoyable. Like a master class in
constructing a story.
The Woods by Harlan Coben
20 years ago, chief prosecutor Paul
Copeland was a counselor at a summer camp. One night he sneaks off into the
woods with his girlfriend for a bit of a bit of hanky panky. Four other
kids, including his sister, sneak off too. Two of them are found murdered.
Two (including Cope's sister) are never found. As this book begins, Cope is
presented with the body of a murder victim who, despite his identity, is
really one of the supposedly missing and murdered kids. He suddenly wonders
about his sister. Did she make it out alive? Is she still living somewhere?
This plot intertwines with a rape case Cope is trying, two rich kids who
raped a stripper and the "machine" that is working to dig up dirt on Cope
and his family to prevent him from prosecuting the kids.
This book zig zags back and forth, connecting so many threads together with
the precision of a Turkish rug maker. It is a non-stop adventure and the
questions never stop, not even at the conclusion. Highly recommended.
Walt Till Next Year by Doris
Presidential Historian Doris Kearns Goodman
takes a break from writing presidential biographies ("Team of Rivals," "The
Bully Pulpit," "No Ordinary Time," etc.) to write a very personal history of
her childhood and growing up a Dodger fan. Goodwin is one month older than I
and grew up in a home devoted to baseball. I didn't get interested in
baseball until the Dodgers and Giants moved to California, one of the big
losses in her life. This delightful coming of age story that parallels the
history of baseball and brings back names I remember from my own childhood,
like Jackie Robinson, PeeWee Reese, and the new kid, Willie Mays, is an
by Cynthia Moss
I loved this book. Moss spent 13
years in Amboseli National Park, following elephants and observing their
interactions, their behaviors, how they handle everything from birth to
death. What happens during a drought?
Rather than a dry scientific paper, this is told with the emotion of a novel
and you come to love her "friends," Slit Ear, Teresia, Tuskless and the
whole crew. She suffered through the inevitable deaths and gave us a peek at
the joyful births. At the end, you feel you really have a feeling for the
lives of these magnificent creatures. There is quite a bit about ivory
poaching, but since the book ends in 1986, with a postscript written in 1999
and much has been doing to try to eradicate poaching, that information is
not really informative, other than historically. For anyone who loves
elephants, I highly recommend this readable, fun, informative book.
Alex and Me by Irene M.
Though I never read "Dr. Doolittle," I have
been fascinated by the possibility of communication among different species.
I became fascinated by Koko, the sign language communicating gorilla and
ever since I became obsessed with elephants, I have been fascinated by
elephant society and communication among themselves. The Alex of the title
was an African Grey parrot who lived 31 years, 30 years of which with animal
psychologist Irene Pepperberg. In that time her experiments with him and
ultimately other grey parrots, showed that being a "bird brain" was more of
a compliment than a put down. Alex had a vocabulary of over 100 words, but
more than that, he showed that he understood them. And he also had a
stubborn streak when he used words to insist that he get what he wanted. He
also learned to make connections between words, such as refusing to say the
word "apple" because it tasted to him like a combination of banana and
cherry, so he insisted it be called "ban-berry."
After his death, he was mourned all over the world, a full page obituary ran
in the (either the New Yorker or New York Times, I can't remember). He had
been called "the smartest bird in the world," but work with him just proved
that animals are thinking more than we may think they are.
The book starts and ends with his death, so there is no doubt about what
happens to him. Still it is a tear jerker, especially Alex's final words for
Pepperberg, "You be good. I love you." A wonderful book.
Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín
I was so looking forward to this book.
Though it's not my usual genre, Eilis is a shy girl (like me) from Ireand
(the land of my ancestors) coming to America to make a life for herself in
the 1950s, the decade that I was growing up in too. And there was Oscar buzz
But it was a huge disappointment. It has all the excitement of a Grandma
Moses painting and is written as if the author was a scientist
dispassionately recording the activities of a bunch of monkeys. There is
nothing that lets the reader know much about Eilis except that she is a wimp
who is afraid to say anything to anybody about anything for fear of saying
the wrong thing, wear the wrong thing, THINK the wrong thing. Even mildly
interesting scenes, such as buying a bathing suit, where there is the
potential of something actually happening between her and someone else, the
incident is glossed over and never mentioned again. I wanted to shake her
all through the book (or shake the writer to tell him we wanted to like
Eilis, not be frustrated with her for 275 pages).
Toward the end of the book, when she returns to Ireland for a vacation there
is a hint of what this book could have been, but then the end just kind of
peters out. I was very, very disappointed.
Our Souls at Night by Kent
Bittersweet story of a widow, Addie Moore
and a widower, Louis Waters. Both have been living alone in their
neighborhood houses, both very lonely. Addie makes an unusual suggestion
which will change both of their lives and the life of Addie's young grandson
Haruf's writing style is unusual and takes a bit of getting used to, but it
is simple and, in its own way, eloquent once you get into it.
The story is filled with joy and heartache, but is full of simplicity and
meaning. The author wrote it when he knew he was dying and was perhaps
making a statement about it never being too late to find love.
The ending was probably inevitable, given the nature of people, but it was
difficult to read as well. Was named Amazon's best book of June 2015.
Long Lost by Harlan Coben
Finding Fraser by KC Dyer
Live Wire by Harlan Coben
For One More Day by Mitch Albom
Mitch Albom has done it again. The
author of "Tuesdays with Morrie" and "Five People You Meet in Heaven" has
written a book which explores the changes that can happen in a person's life
if given one more day with a loved one who has died. Charlie is on a
downward spiral and has decided to end his life. His plans are interrupted
unexpectedly when he encounters his mother, who died five years before. He
spends one last day with her and gets a new outlook on his past and his
future. At 197 pages, this is a fast, easy read, but packs a wallop.
Ordinary Grace by William
This story, told in the voice of 13 year old Frank Drum. relates
events that happened in the sleepy town of New Bremen (near Mankato, for
"Little House" fans!) in the summer of 1961. Frank's dad is the town
Presbyterian minister. His mother is quite artistic, and brooding. There are
3 Drum children. The musically gifted Ariel is the oldest. She hopes to go
to Julliard in the fall. She has few friends because of the repair of her
cleft palate, which has left her with a disfiguring scar. Frank's younger
brother is Jake, with a terrible stutter, who is Frank's shadow. Before the
fall, the town will have dealt with five deaths and the repercussions. Frank
finds himself in an adult world that includes secrets, lies, adultery,
betrayal, murder, suicide and gender identity (not nearly as accepted then
as it is now). The book moves at a fast clip and is an easy, enjoyable read.
We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We
Will Be Killed with Our Families
by Philip Gourevitch
This is not an easy read, but it describes
in very full detail the lead up to the genocide in Rwanda in 1994. I wanted
to know the difference between Hutus an Tutsis and what all the killing was
about anyway, and it answers my questions very well. We have heard ever
since the end of World War II and the liberation of the Nazi death camps
that we should never forget, and never allow it to happen again, yet the
entire world turned its back when nearly a million Tutsis were slaughtered
Ironically, the UN came in to help when they learned that in the death camps
in Rwanda there were dogs who were eating the dead. "They never used their
excellent weapons to stop the extermination of civilians, but it turned out
that the peacekeepers were very good shots. The genocide had been tolerated
by the so-called international community but the corpse-eating dogs were a
When the killing was over, the UN established a tribunal to bring the
perpetrators to trial. After 20 years (and spending $2 million), the
tribunal shut down. They only convicted 61 men, mostly high ranking
It should be an international disgrace that every country that the Tutsis
called on for help (including the United States) ignored them.
Who the hell cared about Rwanda? I mean, face it. Essentially, how many
people really still remember the genocide in Rwanda? We know the genocide of
the Second World War because the whole outfit was involved. But who really
is involved in the Rwandan genocide?
The Last to Die by Tess
Well, this was such a page turner that
rather than prepare for Thanksgiving dinner, I sat in a chair and did not
get up until I finished (fortunately, I still had a day left to prepare).
This is the latest in the Rizzoli-Isles series. I prefer the books to the TV
series because the books meet my mental image of the characters far more
than the actresses on the screen do. Also, Maura Isles is not the annoying
pedant that she is on television.
This story involves three families who are massacred, each leaving one child
living. The child is placed in foster care and each foster family is also
massacred, again leaving the child untouched. As the massacres occur in
vastly different parts of the world, nobody suspects a serial killer at
large, but Rizzoli begins to see patterns, after she begins her
investigation following the murder of the foster family of young Teddy
The children are put in a very secure school in Maine, with high tech
electronic security, hundreds of acres of forest, and seemingly impenetrable
fortress, until suddenly it doesn't seem like it is. Strange things are
happening. A teacher commits suicide. Scary signs appear in the woods. And
at the same time, Rizzoli is beginning to uncover the thing that connected
all three of the murdered families.
The last quarter of the book will be impossible to put down, and the ending
was a surprise I certainly didn't see coming.
Gravity of Birds by Tracy
ven if the story weren't so compelling,
this is a worthwhile book because Guzeman's writing is so beautiful. But she
also weaves a wonderful story of a once-famous artist who stopped painting
more than forty years ago because of a trauma that included himself and two
young sisters he met on a summer vacation. He suddenly calls an art
historian to reveal a hitherto unknown painting that he wants to sell. It is
the center panel of a triptych which depicts himself and each of the young
women. When the art world knows of its existence it will be worth millions.
He says he will only sell if the other two panels can be found, which begins
a search for the young women. The surprising secrets that are revealed kept
me reading until 3 a.m. and then, 3 hours later, for another 2 hours until I
finished it, in tears. Highly recommended!!