37 E. Springtown Rd. Long Valley, NJ 07853 (Morris County) | Phone 908.876.3596
37 E. Springtown Rd. Long Valley, NJ 07853 (Morris County) | Phone 908.876.3596

Book Reviews

The Late Show
By: Michael Connelly

Detective Renee Ballard works the midnight shift (The Late Show) in Hollywood, largely because she filed a sexual harassment complaint against a supervisor. One night she encounters a murderer and a near-murder and is reluctant to turn the investigations over to the day shift, as required. Working her own shift at night and both cases by day, she relentlessly pursues the perpetrators, risking her own career and personal safety. Renee Ballard is a new character for Michael Connelly, one with complex issues of her own. The book was very engaging, and I could not put it down for the last 50 pages.

Courting Mr. Lincoln
By: Louis Bayard

I love historical fiction and Lincoln and this book is a wonderful combination of both. It begins in 1840 as Mary Todd arrives in Springfield to live with her sister. She soon meets Lincoln and his roommate, Joshua Speed, who is everything that Lincoln is not. Handsome and charming, he teaches Lincoln how to fit into Springfield society. Mary soon recognizes his unique personality and their relationship deepens. But, she must deal with his strong relationship with Speed and her conflicted emotions about it. The story is told in two voices, Mary and Speed. This book is an excellent read.

Little Broken Things
By: Nicole Baart

Quinn’s sister tells her she has something for her. The thing She gives her is a little girl. Then her sister disappears again. Quinn is left to deal with this child. Very good book.

They All Fall Down
By: Rachel Howzell Hall

This book was funny at times even though it was a mystery. The main character was almost irritating in her delusions. The greed in this book was outrageous. The twist, in the end, was great. The orchestration of revenge done by the deceased character was spot on and was carried out perfectly. I would recommend this book.

What Remains of Her
By: Eric Rickstad 
The author surprised me in the end. I couldn’t guess who the perpetrator was. At times the book was a little slow, but it kept me reading. I felt the character Jonah’s pain as he longed for his missing wife and daughter. I was almost surprised by the ending and the confession at the end. I would recommend this one.

To Kill a Mockingbird

By: Lee Harper

Just finished the classic To Kill a Mockingbird, and was sadly disappointed. Possibly my fault but I thought the story centered more on the trial. Reading the books in 2019 rather than the 1960s might have shaded my opinion. The story through the children and Atticus is able to demonstrate the social issues of the 1930s. Thankfully the country has grown from the days where the jury had decided the case of Tom Robinson before the first witness.

Twenty One Truths about Love

By: Matthew Dicks

A very witty but true to life depiction of a thirty something man facing personal crisis. The book is written entirely in list format. This adds to its charm while not taking anything away from the story. This book would appeal to readers of all ages. I highly recommend this book!

Dance With Me

By: Luanne Rice

Dance with me is about a woman who gave up her child at birth. The book explores all the emotions connected with this. All the characters in the book are running from the past. The book tells a story about love, family and forgiving. Easy read with a happy ending.

Vanishing Games

By: Roger Hobbs

Absolutely loved this book and author. I finished the first book Ghostman two weeks ago and couldn’t wait to read the sequel. Well written and fast paced, this book is a great beach or pool read. This book follows Jack to China to help his mentor get out of a tough situation using the same cunning tricks of the “ghost” trade he used in the first book. The first book was definitely better, but as far as sequels goes, this was great. I was so disappointed to learn that the author died of an overdose. What a shame and waste of talent.

The Green Amendment: Securing Our right to a Healthy Environment
By: Maya K Van Rossum
This is a hard book to read. It bluntly lays out government and corporate destruction of Earth’s ability to sustain life, and details the horrors many have lived through. I really wanted to bury my head in the sand rather than know this. While we can debate whether a state and a federal conditional amendment is sufficient, it is a valid first step, and has proven its worth in PA and Montana (states with such clauses in their constitutions). I don’t think we should have to go to court to protect our right to “pure water, clean air, and a healthy environment”, but we do, and this amendment makes that possible. In NJ, partner bills were introduced to the state senate and assembly in December, 2017. The assembly bill (ACR85) was referred to the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. The senate bill (SCR134) was referred to a Budget and Appropriations Committee, and looks as though they voted for it, but it’s not clear to me where it stands now. So,
1)Read the opinion piece via NJ.com https://www.nj.com/opinion/2019/02/want-to-guarantee-clean-air-water-in-nj-then-we-need-a-green-amendment-legislator-and-environmentalist-say.html?fbclid=IwAR1N9XdTQJRoLJZd6I6TEgjDlrSigNPOCjWZYOgla6FkDuVn_ueaseTNIhY
2) Contact your legislators and ask them to support passage of this constitutional amendment for NJ. https://www.njleg.state.nj.us/members/legsearch.asp will give you link to who your state legislators are, and if you search for them separately, most have an email form Thank the legislators sponsoring the amendment.
3) Sign the petition found via the link under ‘Calls to Action’ at njhighlandscoalition.org https://docs.google.com/…/1FAIpQLSdJRuOxYNIW734TWx…/viewform
4) Read The Green Amendment book

Cape May

by: Chip Cheek

When the summer reading program began, a bookcase of books was offered to readers. On the bottom shelf, I spotted a book titled Cape May, and imagined a delightful story set in summer in lovely Cape May. I was wrong! Cape May is a dark and disturbing story about a very young, innocent couple who journey to Cape May for their honeymoon. It is the end of summer and the town is desolate and uninviting. The couple decides they will leave in just a few days, but they alter their plans when down the street there is an occupied home, and soon they meet Clara, Max, and Alma who steal their innocence and change their lives forever. The five spend the following days with an unending supply of gin, food, risque games, sex, infidelity and the life-changing consequences that follow. The reader is drawn into this sordid world of five immoral individuals in the novel’s first 200 pages.The final 40 pages cover the couple’s next 50 years, impacted negatively by the Cape May days. I found this ending superficial, too anecdotal and a jarring contrast to the detail of the first 200 pages.

The Woman In Cabin 10

by: Ruth Ware

One of the best books I have read in quite a long time!!! A thriller right from the beginning. A young travel magazine writer is sent onto a luxurious yachts inaugural cruise. The lives of the wealthy mysterious passengers aboard only deepen the question, who is the woman in cabin 10?? A great beach read. 4 stars!!

A Snapshot of Murder

by: Frances Brody

This novel takes place in 1928 England. An amateur photographers club decides to take a trip to the opening of a Bronte museum . The characters are a varied group of seven and have a variety of ages, relationships and histories. The most disagreeable of the bunch is murdered and everyone in the group is suspected. the solution to the crime takes many twists and side trips as it wanders tediously through the countryside.

Queen of Babble In the Big City
by: Meg Cabot
I listened to it on CD. It was very enjoyable and easy to listen to and follow. It took place in New York. It was a cutesy story about a young girl out of college trying to make it in NY as a wedding designer and her idealizations of wedded bliss. The narrator was easy to listen to as well.

Are u ok?: A Guide to Caring for Your Mental Health
by: Kati Morton, LMFT
I tried to read this a few times recently and finally got through it. A very necessary, helpful, and potentially life-changing book. The author is a therapist with a compassionate and down-to-earth writing style who seeks to remove the stigma from mental illness through encouraging people to talk about it as much as possible. She mainly focuses on how to know when one needs help and how to be careful about where to find it, and she also believes anyone can benefit from therapy, even if their mental health is not compromised. Her insights helped me understand certain things better, both about myself and others. I would highly recommend this to anyone, and especially those who are struggling.

by: Philip Roth
What a downer! The book starts out, “Around the grave in the rundown cemetery . . .” and gets more depressing from there. A few words of wisdom are included along the way, but nevertheless depressing. Full of sound and fury . . . signifying nothing. I left out the part about ‘told by an idiot,’ because Philip Roth is certainly not an idiot. In fact, the book is well written and riveting. He is an outstanding storyteller. Unfortunately, in this story there is either a hospital stay or a death every few pages. Spoiler alert: Don’t count on the ending to cheer you up.

Raven Black
by: Ann Cleeves
This book takes the reader one of the remote Shetland Islands where a murder has taken place. It is a cozy mystery, where you are introduced to the island residents as local detective Inspector Jimmy Perez delves into their lives seeking possible motives or explanations. As a reader, you know that the obvious suspect, a mentally challenged old man, couldn’t have done it although some of the mainland officers sent in to work on the case find him an early and easy target. The eventual explanation is far more complicated and the book earns its award as the first Duncan Laurie Dagger Award winner.

Crazy Rich Asians
by: Kevin Kwan
This book was captivating, like a very good soap opera. It’s funny, evokes a vivid picture of the people and locations, and has some drama. In some parts I needed to refresh my recollection of the relations between the massive families, and there is a genealogical chart at the front. Overall I greatly enjoyed reading it. The machinations of family members within their families, and across families often extended over years to acquire advantages. Might even go see the movie at some point, but will be glad I read the book first.

The Book of Dreams
by: Nina George
Henri Malo Skinner is on his way to meet his son for the first time when he dives from a bridge to save a life, and nearly loses his own. Now he lies in a coma, caught in the Between, as his son, Sam, and the estranged love of his life, Eddie, will him to return to them. Told from the perspectives of Henri, Samuel, and Eddie, The Book of Dreams is a study of lost chances, grief, love and letting go. In the author notes at the end of the book, she explains it’s connection to the death of her father which she has spent years trying to come to terms. This is a heartfelt book that will draw you in and make you think about your choices and how they affect both you and your loved ones.

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek
by: Kim Michele Richardson
This book is a must read for everyone who loves books and libraries! I didn’t know anything about the Pack Horse librarians who rode through the poorest areas of the Kentucky mountains to bring reading materials to the people. This was one of the work programs implemented in 1935 by the Works Progress Administration (WPA). It’s also a story about the blue skinned people of Kentucky. It tells us these stories through the eyes of Cussy Marie, also known as Bluet, one of the last of her kind. This is a book not to be missed. And, be sure you read the author’s notes at the end, just fascinating!

The Weekenders
by: Mary Kay Andrews
Riley Griggs spends her summers on the idyllic island of Belle Island, North Carolina. Regulars like Riley, her friends and family mingle with the ” weekenders” that come to the island every Friday. It is truly a special place. Her life turns upside down when her husband never arrives at the island and legal issues overwhelm her. Many twisting turns, secrets and murder lead her on a journey only trusting herself!

After the End
by: Clare Mackintosh
A compelling story, broken up into sections, leaving you wanting to know the outcome. The author tackles the most difficult of subjects. She cleverly presents the second half of the story, providing insight into how things would play out, dependent on one decision. It begs you to question, what would you do if faced with this situation? How would those closest to you react; in support or opposition?

Where the Crawdads Sing
by: Delia Owens
This is a story about the survival of a young girl who was abandoned by her parents, siblings and almost an entire North Carolina town shunned her. She lived in a shack in a marsh on her own for years. When the towns “golden boy” is found dead in the marsh, the locals immediately suspect Kya and she is on trial for her life. I read this book in 2 days because I wanted to know the ending. This book had a bit of everything to offer – romance, murder mystery and a girl coming of age on her own. Very good book, I would recommend it.

Holy Ghost
by: John Sandford
First of all, you can never go wrong with a John Sanford book! I especially enjoy the Virgil Flowers series on audio. This book starts out with a “miraculous” vision of the Virgin Mary at the Catholic church in a small town in Minnesota that has seen better days. With the vision comes lots of visitors and their money. What could possibly go wrong? Well, someone starts shooting at the visitor going to church, Virgil is sent down to investigate and things go from bad to worse. The humor adds to these exciting police or actually Bureau of Apprehension Officer procedurals and kept me listening far into the night!

by: Stephanie Land
Maid is an indie best selling nonfiction book tells the story of hardship and struggle. Readers are given an inside look at the life of a struggling young mother fighting to survive, as well as give her daughter the best life she can. Stephanie does a great job painting the picture of what it is like to serve as a maid. Her story will make you cry and laugh as she shares her hardships and the stories of the houses she cleans. Anyone looking for a light but interesting read this book is for you.

Hotbox: Inside Catering, the Food World’s Riskiest Business
by: Matt Lee & Ted Lee
If you ever wondered how a food caterer can serve hundred or more people this is book for you. The author take us into the prep kitchens in New York City to the estates of the Hamptons. The two brothers who have written cook books, begin working as kitchen assistants for a high end catering company. They take from the grunt work cutting carrots to an event in the Hamptons where Harry Connick entertains. This book give the reader an insight of the extremely rich and how they throw a party.

Failing Up: How to Take Risks, Aim Higher, and Never Stop Learning
by: Leslie Odom, Jr.
This book is a very quick read. While meant to be inspirational, it is a story of one person’s journey in the pursuit of a fulfilling career. The personal stories are relatable, especially the conflicts between parents and students. The biggest takeaway from the book is to question yourself, what have you done today in moving forward towards your goals. I would highly recommend this book, not just for those in pursuit of a career as an actor, but for anyone who is in pursuit of any goal!

Christmas Letters
by: Debbie Macomber
The story is reminiscent of many of this author’s books, girl meets boy, trouble ensues, love wins out in the end. People are not always how they may appear and opinions are tested and re-evaluated. How can two people learn to compromise and listen to another’s point of view on a very subjective topic, child rearing? Although predictable, it is an easy beach read and reminds you that the holidays are just around the corner; Christmas in July! Interwoven into this story are many of the characters from her other novels, so if you are a fan of Macomber, this book is a must read.

All About Magic
by: Sarah Gailey
I totally enjoyed this book! All about Magic, trouble with Sisters, Romance and teenagers. The book jacket says “Full of suspense and magic, with a protagonist as sharp and tart as a lemon.” The main character Ivy Gamble is a PI and she is not Mage, her sister Tabitha is a teacher at a Magic School and Mage. The story is about their relationship and trying to figure out who you really are. Throw in a murder and a school full of magic and you have a page turner!

Here’s the Catch
by: Ron Swoboda
The author takes the reader from his playing days in high school to the major leagues. As a long time Met fan, I was taken back to their historic season. I was reminded that they had clinched the division on my birthday, so many years ago. It was evident throughout the book, Swoboda had written the memoir without assistance from a ghost writer. I would recommend this book to any longtime fan of New York baseball

Sunset Beach
by Mary Kay Andrews
Mary Kay Andrews latest book! Drue Campbell is trying to get her life on some kind of stable track. She has just inherited a beach cottage once owned by her grandparents. It is in deplorable condition and while working on cleaning it up enough to live in it, Drue finds a puzzling scrapbook in the attic! while working a new job at her father’s law firm, she learns of another unsolved murder in the area and becomes obsessed by both puzzles!!

Beneath a Scarlet Sky
by: Mark Sullivan
As a student of history I found this historical novel intriguing. The story of Pino Lela, a teenager during WW II describes tales of aiding Italian Jews thru the mountains of Italy as well a being the driver for a powerful German general. Pino life and those of friends and family show the true casualties of war. There is some happiness throughout the story, but it pales in comparison to the heartache. While the author has taken some liberties, many of characters in the story real.

The Autobiography of Mrs Tom Thumb
by: Melanie Benjamin
Wonderfully written historical fiction taking place in the mid to late 1800s. Vinnie bump is a historical figure who became a national icon by appearing in PT Barnums traveling museum and marrying Tom Thumb.” Melanie Benjamin has such a gift for writing. I absolutely could not put this book of the imagined life of Vinnie down! I would highly recommend this book to fans of historical fiction.

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