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

Where the Crawdads Sing
by Delia Owens
I had to listen to this book because the waiting list for the hard copy was so long and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. I kept trying to find excuses to be alone, drive, do chores–anything– so I could listen some more. Owen’s writing style is incredible. The way she puts words together to create images and melodies just made me go back and rewind passages so I could hear her writing one more time. The story she tells is a fantastic one as well. A young girl is left alone on a marsh with her abusive and alcoholic father until he, too, leaves her to fend for herself at the age of ten. She survives on her own, shunned by the townspeople, helped only by a black man and his wife who are also shunned due to segregation and racism, and her one friend, Tate. She becomes the prime suspect in a murder trial of the town’s golden boy and the story that goes into solving his murder, her life, and the trial, is one that is absolutely riveting. I highly recommend this book!

The Handmaid’s Tale
by Margaret Atwood
I was curious to read this book since I am an avid fan of the show, and I am very glad that I did. I enjoyed reading some of the moments from the book that they translated onto the screen and seeing what they decided to do with those scenes. It was interesting to see that some of the characters in Atwood’s book were depicted differently (Serena was much older), which made it harder to picture in my mind’s eye, and I am thankful for the changes the producers made in the show. However, I am sure that if I had read the book first, I would undoubtably be singing a different tune. Reading this book gave the whole world of Gilead a different perspective, since instead of living in the moment, it was more of a case study of a failed experiment, which was a great twist for me. I am eager to read her sequel when it comes out in September.

by Yaa Gyasi
I absolutely loved this book. I have never read anything like it and I could not put it down. This book follows the stories of two half sisters (who have never met), and their families, all the way from Africa, where one is taken captive on a slave ship and sent to America, and the other, who is sold to a slave captain to be his wife where she remains in Africa. Each chapter is a vignette of one generation in the family, either in Africa or America, showing a glimpse of both the history and culture of the life they lead, and how the choices both intentional and those forced upon them, have shaped their lives. It was fascinating to learn some of the history of Africa through the eyes of African people while also witnessing different time periods in American history (slavery, Harlem Renaissance, Jim Crow) through the eyes of African Americans. The way Gyasi completes her story perfectly wraps up the novel.

Gone Girl
by Gillian Flynn
I was disappointed this book. I went in having high hopes for a summertime thriller, but alas…Flynn is a talented writer, and the plot for the story is an exciting concept, but there were too many things that irked me throughout the book for me to really connect and enjoy it. I could not stand either of the main characters. Their personalities and shortcomings were almost too much to bear. I kept reading because I was intrigued with the premise of the book and wanted to see how it all would unfold, but in the end, it made me mad that I had read so many pages and ended up being let down. I kept waiting for it to get better but it never did.

A Man Called Ove
by Fredrik Backman
Oh my gosh, this book was amazing. It was so incredibly sweet; I must have teared up at least once a chapter. Even though Ove’s character is one who would normally be considered to be a grump and supremely unlikeable, Backman develops his character–from his background story to his inner monologue, to his interactions with others–into a man so endearing, you are instantly swept up in the sweetness of his quirks. I was rooting for him the entire story and it kept getting better and better until the end. I loved it. Can’t wait to see the movie when it comes out!

by Michelle Herman
Jill Rosen is a college professor whose career is stuck and who is living in a midwestern town, far from her home in NYC, where she hasn’t lived for ten years. She is alone, having no close family and having sworn off men after a series of failed relationships. Then one night in a somewhat drunken state, she decides to search adoptions on the web, thinking she should have a child, but all the hits come up for dog adoptions, so she adopts a dog. She renames Dog (the man fostering him doesn’t like to get attached) Phillip, then Phil, only later realizing that this is the name of one of her ex-boyfriends. Her growing relationship with Phil leads to changes in Jill that allow for the possibility of a happier future for her. I thought this was an interesting book, though frustrating to read because it’s told mostly in stream of consciousness from Jill’s point of view. You don’t even realize that much is changing in Jill’s outlook until quite close to the end.

Warlock Holmes: The Sign of Nine
by G.S. Denning
Sherlock Holmes is a genius & his Dr. John Watson a faithful sidekick. Warlock Holmes is a font of arcane abilities & knowledge, but can’t deduce the time of day if he looked at a clock, while his Dr. Watson is the brains of the outfit. Holmes, literally, is a powerful, but rather dense, warlock. Watson is his long-suffering (mainly because he is on the wrong end of Holmes’ spells) partner & biographer. Inspector Lestrade is a vampire. Detective Grogsson (formerly Gregson) is an ogre. Not Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s vision of the world’s first consulting detective. “Warlock Holmes: The Sign of Nine” is the fourth in G.S. Denning’s series about the detecting duo. The chapter titles are twists on those from The Canon. The books are a mash up of Doyle’s Holmes & Watson, P.G. Wodehouse’s Jeeves & Wooster, with lots on magic thrown in. Hilarious & highly entertaining!

Paradox Bound
by Peter Clines
When Eli Teague was 8 1/2 years old he met Harriet “Harry” Pritchard, dressed in a frock coat, a tricorne hat, carrying a flintlock rifle, & trying to get her Model A Ford fueled up – with water? He met her again when we was 13, and yet again at 29. He had aged, she hadn’t. This began his teaming with Harry to search for the American Dream – originally called into existence by the Egyptian god Ptah at the request of Benjamin Franklin at the very beginning of the history of the United States. Peter Clines’ “Paradox Bound” is a very alternate history novel. At some point the American Dream disappeared, & characters, fictional & historical, travel through American history (NOT time, as Eli is constantly being reminded) to find the missing Dream, while the (literally) Faceless men try to stop them. The characters are deftly written, the chase scenes exciting, & the story entertaining. Once you pick it up you won’t be able to put it down.

The First Bad Man
by Miranda July
Are you a person who’s living, or maybe not so much? Are you looking for hope that, through all the hardship and transformation of life, you may find a quiet corner just for you? This book is in your corner. This book says you belong no matter your quirks, pain, or mistakes. This book is full of quirky, painful mistakes, mostly caused by people, and you’ll heal from them, mostly. This book hurts, but I promise you’ll forgive it.

Silent Night
by Danielle Steel
Paige is living her childhood through her daughter, Emma. Emma is a movie star. A tragic accident kills Paige but Emma survives. Emma takes a long time to recover and is left to her Aunt Whitney. The characters grow as individuals and we see how one event can change the course of your life. This is a story that can touch your heart. It is an emotional and heartfelt story.

The Senator’s Wife
by Karen Robards
This book is full of different genres- politics, legal, mystery. Ronnie is the gorgeous young wife of a much older senator. Tom is the political consultant brought in to make her more likeable for voters. They fall for each other and the senator ends up dead with Ronnie to blame. The book takes a turn that wasn’t predicted. The story was told from two perspectives but in the end it all comes together.

Winter Garden
by Kristin Hannah
A heartfelt story about the troubled relationship between mother/daughter. Two sisters, Meredith and Nina couldn’t be more different from one another. Their Russian born mother, Anya, has always been cold and distant. These women slowly reconnect with one another on a trip to Alaska when they learn their mother’s real story. The story starts off slow but quickly draws you in.

What I Had Before I Had You 
by Sarah Cornwell
This book is about multiple generations of characters who suffer from bipolar disorder. Olivia is recently divorced who has custody of her two children, Carrie and Daniel. Daniel was recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder. On a trip back home Daniel disappears and Olivia recalls memories of her strange childhood with her bipolar mother, Myla. It’s a book about understanding bipolar disorder and how one has perceptions and actions. I found the book hard to read and hard to get in to. I felt the book spent too much time in the past and hard to follow along.

Way of the Warrior Kid
by Jocko Willink
We became aware of Jocko Willink’s podcast and thought this book would be good for our kids. I wanted to check it out myself and admit I enjoyed it. I thought he conveyed the message that anyone can be a warrior. I especially appreciated discipline equals freedom. I look forward to the next.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
by J. K. Rowling
Just as with the Sorcerer’s stone, the imagination it took to craft this world is astounding! I can’t believe I let the fact that this is a children’s book keep me from reading this series. Who wouldn’t want to return to Hogwarts for a second year? And for an even more fantastic adventure than last year! The basilisk, the Phoenix and Tom Riddle’s journal make for a thoroughly enjoyable read!

Moon Rush: The New Space Race
by Leonard David
An historical review of mankind’s exploration of the moon. Mostly covers United States endeavors but includes other countries as well. As a narrative it includes interesting detail without getting too cumbersome and slow. Includes the good, the bad, successes and failures. Helped me remember the achievements made a while filling in details I had not known. It then moves onto explain the plans of current companies such as SpaceX and Blue Origin. Well written by an author involved with the space programs for 50 years. A good read.

Convenience Store Woman
by Sayaka Murata
This was my book club’s choice. It’s about Keiko, a 36 year old who worked 18 years in a convenience store. She was socially “odd” as a child, but the store training posters, manuals, and videos finally taught her how to smile, make eye contact, and express herself. She found peace and purpose in the world in which she could successfully function, yet everyone tried to make her “normal”. The book was fascinating from the perspective of this work culture.

The Richest Season
by Maryann McFadden
After seeing this local author at the library to discuss her new book, The Cemetery Keeper’s Wife, I wanted to read her earlier works. The Richest Season is Maryann McFadden’s first book. It’s a journey of two women who leave life as they know it and escape to Pawleys Island SC. Joanna is tired of being a corporate wife but still loves her family. Grace wants to find meaning in death and tries to shield her family. I couldn’t put this down as I often changed my thoughts of how this would—or should—end!

Good Omens
by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
I have to say I am a big fan of Terry Pratchett. This book is a collaboration with Neil Gaiman who is also very witty and fun. The apocalypse is coming, according to the beliefs of angels and demons. All part of The Great Plan they say. But these celestial characters have flaws just as humans do and when the antichrist is swapped with another newborn it is the wrong one. So the antichrist is lost for eleven years and matures as a regular boy. The angel Aziraphale and the demon Crowley have become friends over the millennia and would rather not lose their friendship and humankind just yet. The story evolves as a farce with witches and unemployed witch-hunters and small English community characters. I laughed out loud several times. And the ending made me think, does any being really know God’s Great Plan?

Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World
by Vicki Myron with Bret Witter
This was the sweetest book I’ve read in a long time! Dewey was an abandoned kitten in Spencer, Iowa who was left in the book return box at the public library on one of the coldest nights of the year. Discovered by the library staff the next morning, he was adopted by them and “lived” at the library. With Spencer’s townspeople using the library less and less, changes took place when Dewey came on the scene. He greeted everyone and gave the library an inviting atmosphere. With a bad economy due to many farms going out of business, Dewey brought life back into the families of Spencer during a depressed time, as the word spread about the new Library Cat. This is a true story about how little things can bring people together in the hardest of times.

The Woman in Cabin 10 
by Ruth Ware
I do like the mysteries of Ruth Ware. She never disappoints! This is an excellent summer read. Takes place on a boutique cruise ship up in Norway. Not your typical ship. Laura, a travel journalist is onboard the ship for a press only cruise and a murder happens, or does it? Lots of good plot twists, a love story with Judah who wonders where she has gone since he is in Russia on a story of his own. A quick, fun read!

Dr, Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
by Robert Louis Stevenson
This is the classic horror tale of one man with two sides. In this story we follow Dr. Henry Jekyll as he seeks to discover more about himself. However, along the way he finds a monster. This short story examines the two sides of man’s nature. Which side will take over?

Aunt Dimity and the Heart of Gold
by Nancy Atherton
In the midst of summer heat, what a delightful story set around the Christmas season. The story is about love lost and love found, but at its core is the support of friends and community. Interspersed within is a bit of history and a bit of fantasy; communication with the spirit world. Apparently, this is one book in a series, all about an “Aunt Dimity”. I highly recommend this light read and I will look into reading more in the series, especially if the contain the humor, compassion and history which was brought forth in this novel.

The Most Fun We Ever Had
by Claire Lombardo
This is a lovely heartwarming read. It’s a love story that spans 40 years as well as the story of the four daughters born from this story. It covers the relationship of 2 parents, the intense dynamic of sister relationships and everything else that goes along with it. Regardless of money or social status you cannot escape where you came from and this family makes it very evident. Family secrets and little twists make this book a very enjoyable read.

Atomic Habits
by James Clear
How can you develop healthy habits? It’s not quite as difficult as you imagine. The author breaks down, step-by-step, how you can create new habits in a manner which is non-disruptive; making them a part of your daily routine. You can build upon these new routines to bring positive outcomes to your life. The information provided is beneficial for both personal habits and professional habits; both of which are needed in today’s society. I highly recommend this book!!

Do You Think What You Think You Think?
by Julian Baggini and Jeremy Stangroom
What are your beliefs? Tests inside of the book are constructed in such a way to point out that some of your beliefs are in direct conflict with each other. Tests were a bit tedious to score and interpret. While I would recommend this book, take note that it is not a quick and easy read. The premise does push you to think about yourself and how you may act in contrast to what you think.

Cades Cover – A Personal History
by Judge William Wayne Oliver
This true story of growing up in Cades Cove, now a part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, was very well written and clearly evoked what life must have been like for these hardy souls. Judge Oliver was the descendant of John and Lucretia Oliver, the original settlers in the Cove. He lived there from his birth in 1907 through the creation of the national park. He knew or was related to everyone in the Cove, and his stories about the daily lives of his ancestors, supplemented by photographs and copies of documents, really brought them to life. Reading this while visiting the Cades Cove section of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park added an extra layer of meaning and enjoyment to our summer trip. Oliver’s memoir enabled me to really imagine the people who once populated this beautiful and remote area.

The Lost City of the Monkey God
by Douglas Preston
This non fiction account of the discovery and beginning of the exploration of “The White City” in Honduras was fascinating. Thought to be a myth, new Lidar technology allows a team to locate and begin to map the ruins of a lost civilization. According to legend, anyone who disturbs the ruins will be cursed, and the team does in fact contract a rare tropical disease. The author speculates about the rise and fall of the civilization, and the possible ways that disease brought by foreign explorers likely caused their tragic end.

The Wolves of Winter
by Tyrell Johnson
This book is about the post-apocalyptic adventures of Lynn McBride and her family as they try to survive in the Yukon nuclear winter following the collapse of civilization The arrival of strangers to the family’s encampment reveals old family secrets and Lynn discovers that her late father had secretly inoculated her against the disease which had eliminated a large part of the world’s population, which has made her a target for the remaining members of a secret government agency. Lynn is kidnapped for study but is able to escape into the wilderness with the help of Jax, a bioengineered human designed to be the “perfect soldier”. I was a little disappointed in this book. The plot was promising, but the characters were two dimensional.

The Homecoming of Samuel Lake
by Jenny Wingfield
In Arkansas in the 1950s, the Moses clan goes home for their annual reunion. Father John commits suicide, and son-in-law Samuel Lake discovers that the Methodist Church has declined to renew his contract as a minister, so the family decides to stay on until things are calmer. Eleven year old Swan Lake befriends an 8 year old neighbor who is being brutally abused by his cruel father. When Ras Ballenger turns his fury on Swan, Samuel rescues her and kills Ras. An honest man, Samuel arrives at the Sheriff’s office to confess, only to find that his brother in law has already done so in order to clear his conscience over a different murder he had gotten away with years ago. I really enjoyed the characters, who were funny, unpredictable, and quirky. This was Jenny Wingfield’s first book, published in 2011, and I hope she’s written more since!

Window of the South
by Robert Hicks
This historical novel was based on the true story of Carrie McGavock, mistress of Carnton, a plantation in Franklin, Tennessee and her servant, Mariah as their home is turned into a Confederate hospital during the Battle of Franklin. Carrie, who is at best quirky but seems to suffer what would now be recognized as mental illness, and Mariah are pressed into service as nurses. As she is thrust into the role of caring for and comforting the dying and critically injured soldiers, she falls in love with one of them. Although they never behave inappropriately (Carrie is a married woman, and Zacharia Cashwell is well below her social class) his memory remains with her throughout her life as the country and her family rebuild during the Reconstruction. Her home, the former hospital, becomes a cemetery, and years later, Zacharia, now elderly, appears at Carrie’s doorstep to inquire whether the cemetery has room for one more occupant. This book was extremely compelling, and I am looking forward to reading its sequel.

Clans of the Alphane Moon
by Philip K. Dick
As a PKD fan, I really wanted to like this book. The concept was great: a few decades ago, the severely mentally ill were exiled to live on a far away moon. They built a caste-system style civilization based on their diagnosis and had elected leaders of each ‘clan’. It was a fun read, but overall the story was a little messy and fell flat. It’s probably not worth your time unless you really love PKD.

How to Be Single
by Liz Tuccillo
This book would definitely be classified as “summer read” – the plot is essentially Sex In The City. Five approaching-forty ladies in NYC come to terms with dating, divorce, and what it means to be single. Julie, the main character, travels the world to interview single women for a book that she is writing on How to Be Single and in the process strengthens the bonds of friendship between the women, has an affair, and decides that the only logical conclusion is that she needs to love herself before she will ever be able to find “the perfect man”. This was a good book to read while on vacation, since it was easy to put down and pick back up without having to think too hard about where it left off. It was funny and entertaining, but very predictable.

The Razor’s Edge
by W. Somerset Maugham
This novel – which the author states is a true story – follows the life of Larry Darrell, a traumatized WWI pilot. After the war, he seeks spiritual enlightenment through knowledge, travel, and meditation. His path is juxtaposed against the lives of a few affluent Americans living abroad who can not fathom that meaning could be worth more than money. The era and characters are expertly described by the author – a great read!

The Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect
by Roger Williams
In the not-so-distant future, a man creates a computer that is capable of conscious thought. The computer eventually grows powerful enough to alter matter. It’s a well thought-out scifi that presents an interesting dilemma in the three laws of robotics and the future of AI. The violence and gore are WAY over the top – but if that doesn’t bother you then go for it. The concept is great and it’s a quick read.

by Ann Patchett
This book follows the lives of two families after they are joined through marriage. Some poor parenting choices are exhibited and a tragedy strikes. The reader is left to see what happens in the aftermath. The book is an easy and fun read, and asserts that kids are resilient. Anyone who likes family dramas may be interested.

The Detective, the Woman, and the Silent Hive
by Amy Thomas
Dr. John Watson referred to Irene Adler as The Woman. She was the only female to best Sherlock Holmes & get away with a crime. In “The Detective & the Woman” Trilogy, Amy Thomas has turned Holmes & Adler into partners in detection instead of adversaries on opposite sides of the law. The third book in the series, “The Detective, the Woman, and the Silent Hive” has Adler coming to London to ask for Holmes’ help after her beloved bee hives were decimated by a rare disease, & she receives a threatening letter connecting their deaths with further harm to their owner. After further threats, murders, & kidnappings the pair win the day. Simplistic summary, but the book is well written & a fun read, as is the whole series, that give an enjoyable twist to Arthur Conan Doyle’s original canon of stories.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz
by Heather Morris
This book is based from real interviews from a survivor of Auschwitz. Lale is a Slovakian Jew who “volunteers” when each family must send someone to “help” in the work camps. While there are deeply disturbing images presented there is also a message of hope and love. This work is a true testament to the human spirit. I highly recommend this book. Although not an easy breezy summer read it is definitely a must read.

Before We Were Yours
by Lisa Wingate
If you are looking for a great summer read this book is for you. This book is based on one of America’s most notorious real-life scandals. It is told from two different character’s perspectives about how the two lives crossed years before. The book keeps you on your toes as to what is going to happen next. I enjoyed how not only did it take place in present day but also brought you back to Memphis 1939

Art of Racing in the Rain
by Garth Stein
If you are looking for an easy summer read this book is for you especially if you like to read the book before watching the movie. This book takes you on an adventure of a dog and a man. It lets you see the dogs perspective of the man’s life including his relationship with his wife, child and an illness. Perfect for all dog or animal lovers. Great book.

Raven Black
by Ann Cleeves
In the Shetland Islands, Fran Hunter finds the body of a dead teenager in the snow on her way home. Most everyone feels that the murderer is an old, local, simple man, Magnus Tait. Some years before, he had been connected to a disappearance of young girl, but had never been charged or convicted. However, based on his odd behavior, it is felt that he is likely responsible for the teenager’s murder if not the young child’s disappearance also. Detective Jimmy Perez is not convinced Magnus is responsible. He continues the investigation to find the truth. This book was well written and very atmospheric. It gives the reader an interesting look at life in the Shetland Islands.

Hitler and the Habsburgs
by James Longo
This book is an excellent work of non-fiction which brings to light the story of a family defined by their imperial history. However, the Habsburg dynasty did not disappear with the collapse of their over 800 year old empire, after WW1. The descendents of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, whose assassination sparked WW1, became the obsession of Adolf Hitler, who spent his youth in obscurity, resenting the luxury of the Austrian royals. As a result, the imperial children grew to become Hitler’s biggest political threat to his dream of controlling his homeland of Austria. They out maneuvered Hitler politically by securing alliances and making plans to reestablish the House of Habsburg as the imperial house of Austria. Thus forcing Hitler to default to his military advantage to force an annexation using fear and threats. The children of the Archduke soon became Hitler’s subjects and their political war and the consequences of such a war became far more dangerous. This is a story of resilience and provides great insight into a topic not well covered by historians, all without being to difficult of a read.

by Robert Macfarlane
This book was about all things underground – caves, the Paris Catacombs, Nuclear waste vaults, underground rivers and more. I loved it. The writing put you in those places. Macfarlane has a way of putting you into different worlds – his description of his fear in some of the places made me shiver. Only thing I really would have liked was pictures. I found myself googling places he was at. But the photos could not capture what he described. So maybe that’s why he just chose the occasional black and white grainy photo. Highly recommended.

The Nickel Boys
by Colson Whitehead
Elwood Curtis,a Black teenager inspired by Martin Luther King Jr.,has dreams and a desire to better his life. As the Civil Rights movement begins to reach his hometown of Tallahassee,Florida Curtis makes plans to get involved. An innocent mistake leads to being him being sentenced to Nickel Academy, a juvenile reformatory,where physical abuse,sadistic staff and even murder are everyday events. Elwood tries to hold onto the words of MLK Jr. in the midst of daily horrors. His friend,Turner, thinks Elwood is naive and together they make a decision that will have consequences that persist for decades. The ending of this book was a complete surprise.

Behind Closed Doors
by B. A. Paris
This book is similar to Gone Girl. Jack Angel finds Grace and her sister Millie in a park. Grace finds Jack the perfect gentleman and boyfriend but after they marry, she sees the dark side of Jack. Jack uses Grace as a front to be his wife but also to lure her sister Millie to appease his desire to instill fear in people. Grace is locked up as a prisoner in their house and is tortured every time she does or says the wrong thing. The story weaves thru Grace’s experience with Jack and how she has to come up with a way to save Millie from coming to live with her and Jack. The book is a quick read but the plot really became intense about 3/4 of the way in. The beginning of the book seemed too predictable but that changed when Grace started realizing how she could beat Jack at his game.

The Dinosaur Artist
by Paige Williams
In 2012, “a superb Tyrannosaurus skeleton” was offered for auction in NYC. The nearly complete T. bataar, is a close cousin to the most famous dinosaur that ever lived. Eric Prokopi, a thirty-eight-year-old Floridian brought this eight-feet high and 24 feet long, the spectacular specimen to life. When the gavel fell the winning bid was over $1 million. Prokopi worked his obsession with fossils into a thriving business hunting, preparing, and selling specimens, to clients ranging from natural history museums to avid private collectors like actor Leonardo DiCaprio. As the T. bataar went to auction, a network of paleontologists alerted the government of Mongolia to amazing creature. An international custody battle ensued. This non-fiction book documents Prokopi’s rise as a respected fossil seller & his fall from grace. From digging fossils in Mongolia’s Gobi Desert to assembling them in a Florida garage this book provides the reader with insights into the questionable business of selling pieces of history. Even if you don’t love dinosaurs this book is worth reading.

Killing with Confetti
by Peter Lovesey
When last we met Peter Lovesey’s put-upon Detective Superintendent Peter Diamond he was forced to wear an 18th century “pinkish-mauve” costume with embroidered leaves and flowers. Sartorial issues arise in Lovesey’s latest mystery when Diamond wears a new pair of jeans (he doesn’t recall ever owning a pair) to a “casual” meeting with the Deputy Chief Constable of the Bath police force. The resident kitten takes a liking to the Detective Superintendent, & when he arrives back home Diamond’s own cat takes exception to the fraternization and distresses the new jeans – while the owner is still wearing them. And that was the best part of his day. DS Diamond is “asked” by the Deputy Chief Constable to provide security for the wedding of his son to the daughter of one of England’s most powerful crime bosses, who has just been released from jail. The wedding is to take place at the Bath Abbey & the reception at the Roman Baths, just across the square. The concern is that a rival gang boss will try to have the father of the bride killed before/during/after the ceremony. Solving crimes is what Diamond does, not being a bodyguard for someone he would rather see in jail for life. The assassination attempt at the abbey is thwarted by torrential rain, so the killer tries again during the reception at the Baths. The would-be assassin is found dead & DS Diamond & Co. must solve what appears to be a locked room murder. Filled with excellent pacing, sly humor, and a startling twist, this is another feather in cap of Peter Diamond (except that he only wears a trilby, never a cap, & certainly without feathers in it.) May his retirement be a long way off.

A Whole New World
by Liz Braswell
Think you know the story of Aladdin? This twisted tale takes a new look at the familiar story of Aladdin, Jasmine, and the magic lamp. What would happen if Aladdin never found the lamp in the Cave of Wonders? Dive into the world of the street rats as Aladdin and Jasmine come together to take back control of the fabled city Agrabah. If you are a fan of the disney movies than this is the book for you.

The McAvoy Sisters Book of Secrets
by Molly Fader
Delia and Lindy are two very close sisters growing up in the Great Lakes area. They are very opposite in looks and personality. Lindy leaves her family after a falling out and returns when her mother falls ill. She has to rectify her previous reputation and try to salvage and repair her relationship with her sister, who is going through her own difficult time. Will the secret that these women hold destroy them or bind them together? This was an easy and pleasant book to read. I guessed the “big secret” early on, but it was still enjoyable to read.

The Chain
by Adrian McKinty
Imagine getting a call that is every parent’s worst nightmare: “We have your child.” It’s not enough that you are willing to pay the ransom, you must also kidnap another child and hold that child until their ransom is paid and their parents kidnap another child. If you don’t, your child will die. If the next “link in the chain” messes up or goes to the authorities, your child will die. Who is behind The Chain? “It’s not about the money, it’s about The Chain” they say. But why? Quick, easy, enjoyable read although some characters are very unbelievable.

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down
by Anne Fadiman
This very interesting book came from the 10 cent table at the library! It is about a Hmong child in Merced, California with medical issues and the struggle to get her care in the American medical system. Her parents don’t speak english and do not have faith in western medicine. The Hmong people are very family and trible loyal, but the child becomes the focus of doctors and social workers as they try to give her appropriate care. Do they really help her and her family? I learned a lot about Hmong culture from Laos and the story is well balanced between cultural and medical needs.

A Woman is No Man
by Etaf Rum
This is a wonderful book,telling the stories of three generations of Palestinian women living in America.The story moves from Palestine in 1990 to Brooklyn in 2008. The central characters are seventeen year old Isra,who comes to Brooklyn because of an arranged marriage,her mother-in-law Fareeda and her daughter,Deya. Each of them struggles with the expectations of their strict Arab culture.It is a story that deals with what it means to be a woman,immigration,violence and oppression. This is not light summer reading but well worth the time.

No Exit
by Taylor Adams
Wow! This book was one of the best I have read in a while. It was hard to put down. The deception and mistrust was rampant. The heroine was brave and relentless. The last few chapters were ones full of suspense and I found myself cheering Darby on. Wow!

The Secrets Between Us
by Thrity Umrigar
This book is a sequel to The Space between us, but you don’t have to read that book first. This is about 2 poor women trying to earn a living in India. One has a grand daughter to support. The other had a medical problem. These 2 women become best friends, and become successful. Very good book.

by Janet Evanovich
As one of the author’s earlier works, the main character is divorced with two kids and desperately needs a job. After seeing a help wanted sign posted outside of a house under construction, she applies for the job as a carpenter. With no experience, the owner is so smitten with her, that he hires her on the spot. Thus, begins a romance, a crazy aunt taking care of the kids, a dog that eats everything in sight and a house that needs a lot of work. This is a quick read, very typical of this author’s style.

Normal People 
by Sally Rooney
Not sure I’ve ever read anything like this before. Part love story, part psychological study, part socio-economic observation, part identity crisis. When I was in college my roommate and I would get into philosophical discussions and this felt right in line with them (and where my brain was when I was in college). Characters were very complex, realistic and well-developed. Not sure why it’s called “Normal People”. Maybe as a way of stating that everyone has their problems and are complex people.

Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations
by Mira Jacob
I post-marked so many pages of this book. But in short – I share Jacob’s desire for a beautifully diverse world. Agree with all she says and impressed with how honest she can be about her experience. So often people don’t even realize what they are saying or how offensive they can be. Could be a great graphic novel for high school. But I recommend it to all adults and Y/A.

The Last Stone
by Mark Bowden
Hard to say “This book was amazing” or “I loved it” because it is SO disturbing and horrifying. And true. A sick, gripping story. I knew there were weirdos out there, but this is a whole different level of crazy. Plus when you learn about his background and his whole family… you almost feel sorry for him. But then you don’t. And you become paranoid and mistrustful of every stranger. Plus it gives you an in-depth look into all that detectives go thru to try to get people to talk, or in this case a pathological liar and crazy man. I can not imagine how they do what they do. This book is not for the faint of heart.

The Devil’s Code
by John Sandford
Jon Sanford is one of my favorite detective/mystery writers and the characters Virgil Flowers (yes) and Lucas Davenport are among my favorite. In The Devil’s Code, Sanford resurrected the character Kidd, apparently from a much earlier time in the author’s writing career. I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as his other novels. It had suspense, and action, but the character Kidd was not nearly as developed as his other books, and the story line was just good, but not great.

The Road Beyond Ruin
by Gemma Liviero
This is a book that takes place during WWII; however, it is not about the Jewish people that suffered, but about the Italian and Germany people who just wanted things to back to normal. It is about how they struggled to survive in a world they never knew who they could trust. The story is about 4 people, two women and two men, who grew up in Germany together and also an Italian resistance fighter trying to make his way back home to Italy. Each of them after the war were trying to move forward and bury their past secrets.

The British Are Coming: the War for America, Lexington to Princeton, 1775-1777
by Rick Atkinson
To say that Atkinson can tell a story is like saying Sinatra can sing…Lurking behind all the assembled evidence, which somehow Atkinson managed to read, digest in a remarkably short period of time, is a novelistic imagination that verges on the cinematic. Truly, this author transcends historical genre into a compelling mindmeld of pure cinematic delight. Historians of the American Revolution alert…Atkinson brings with him a Tolstoyan view of war; that is, he presumes war can only be understood by recovering the experience of ordinary men and women caught in the crucible of orchestrated violence beyond their control and comprehension. Atkinson pays only passing attention to this political side of the Revolutionary story, devoting more space to such policymakers in London as King George since this author was granted unrestricted access to the king’s actual diaries…the first time in history.

The Road Home 
by Richard Paul Evans
THE ROAD HOME is the 3rd book of the BROKEN ROAD trilogy written by Richard Paul Evans. This was the fascinating story of a man who goes from poverty to being a rich and famous sales spokesperson. When the man is about to board his flight to his next sales presentation, he realizes he has left his laptop at an airport store, runs back to retrieve it, and misses his flight. While re-booking his flight, the news of a plane crash comes over the loud speakers. The doomed plane is the one he was supposed to be on. There are no survivors. Charles suddenly realizes that this is an opportunity to escape his world of great wealth but, also, of unbearable pressure. He finds the answers to having a life of more than money and power, but of happiness and finding his true self.

by Dani Shapiro
This is a memoir about how a DNA test changed the author’s life. She discovers from the test results that she is not related to her father’s family at all. What follows is first shock and disbelief, followed by a search to understand her identity. The book illustrates the difficulty of locating and making a connection with biological parents. It also shows how an unexpected DNA result can upset a person’s sense of self.

The Death of Mrs. Westaway
by Ruth Ware
This is quite a good mystery with a Gothic atmosphere. Harriet Westaway receives a letter bequeathing her a substantial inheritance from her grandmother. Oddly, Harriet’s grandmother has been dead for more than 20 years. She decides to travel to the family home at Trespassen, a sprawling but decaying estate in the English countryside, to claim her inheritance. There she is confronted with some very odd circumstances. This book is part mystery, part thriller, and part family drama. It is an enjoyable read.

Twisted Prey
by John Sandford
Lucas Davonport , a Federal Marshal, is called in to investigate a car accident involving a senator and his aide . The senator survives , but the aide dies in the accident. At first, it appears that it was a tragic accident, but after further investigation Lucas feels that it was it was planned in order to kill the senator. The evidence begins to point to Taryan Grant, a rich psychopath who as plans on becoming president . Now all he has to do is prove it. I always enjoy John Sandford novels and this one did not disappoint.

Listful Thinking
by Paula Rizzo
“When the only tool you have is a hammer, you treat every problem like a nail.” I frequently use lists and find them to be very helpful. However, this book:
1. Oversells the use of lists.
As you can see, a list is not always appropriate or helpful. For example, the author dedicates a whole chapter to using lists to manage your social life. Chill out, author! The book’s frequent (constant?) use of lists make it a quick read, especially when the lists are double spaced.

by Nancy Thayer
A true beach read. The book tells the story of Joanna Jones, a host of a New York television show, “Fabulous Homes”. She is a successful, single, independent woman who is content with her life until she finds out that she is pregnant with twins. Knowing that the babies’ father is married and and has no intention of leaving his wife, she moves to Nantucket and buys an old neglected home. This is a story of finding your “home” and creating a family.

A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder
by Dianne Freeman
The setting of this cozy mystery is Victorian England, London in the late summer of 1899, to be exact. This is the second volume of the Countess of Harleigh series. Frances Wynn, who is the American born Countess of Harleigh, becomes involved in a murder investigation. She is now a young widow who lives in a home in London with her daughter and staff. Most of London society is out of town spending the summer at their country estates. Upon the suspicious death of a socialite, Lady Harleigh becomes involved in the murder investigation at the request of her admirer and neighbor, George Hazelton. He has been asked to look into the murder. It seems as though many odd notes containing scandalous information have been found at the home of the deceased. George thinks that Lady Harleigh may be able to help him decipher the contents of the notes, as many include only initials and coded information. Also, the prime suspect turns out to be Frances’ cousin, Charles Evingdon, who had been courting the victim at the time of her death. Hence, George and Frances are determined to prove his innocence and find the true culprit. The story provides many twists and turns that successfully keep the reader engaged.

No Way Home 
by Carlos Acosta
A Cuban friend who had just returned from Cuba was captivating me with the stories of seeing her great grandfather’s paintings around Cuba. In our conversations, she discussed the noted Cuban ballet dancer, Carlos Acosta. She gave me his memoir to read: No Way Home (a dancer’s journey from the streets of Havana to the stages of the world). Born to a truck driver and a housewife, Acosta’s childhood was spent in the poor streets of Havana. Rebellious and feisty, he found ways to skip school and disobey his father, despite unpleasant disciplinary consequences. Acosta had one focus: to become a soccer player. His father had another: for his son to become a ballet dancer, a future the boy saw as punishment. His father enrolls him in ballet school, but Acosta’s rebellious behavior threatens his future there. His teachers see a special talent in Acosta and want him to succeed. At age 17, Acosta wins a gold medal for ballet, his first of many future awards. It is now that Acosta connects fully with ballet and commits to advancing as far as he can. Acosta’s illustrious career takes him around the world where he performs in leading roles at the English National Ballet, the Houston Ballet, the Royal Ballet, the American Ballet Theater, and the Cuban National Ballet. At the Royal Ballet, Acosta was asked to represent Rudolph Nureyev in The Corsair. Acosta’s story is compelling and entertaining. His talent, achievements, and world fame came with a price, detailed poignantly in the book. This is a noteworthy and enjoyable story with themes we can all relate to: family bonds and conflict, the challenges of career vs. family,

by Blake Crouch
Wow! This novel about “memory travel” was quite a ride. I just barely kept up with the science, but I was willing to go along as the story progressed, which worked out fine. As I got near the end, I was starting to worry that it would be a real downer – horrible things were happening because of the invention of “the chair.” Thankfully, that wasn’t the case, although the author did leave the ending in the mind/attitude of the reader, to a large extent. If you’re up for some heavy-duty but down-to-earth sci-fi, this is highly recommended.

All We Ever Wanted
by Emily Giffin
A must read, especially for parents of teenagers. What do we really know about our children; what can we accept? This novel kept me wanting to read it in one sitting, it was very engaging. The author keeps the story moving by the telling of the events through the eyes of each of her characters. She also attempts to convey the differences between the adolescence brain vs. the adult brain and the interpretation of character based upon the viewpoint. I would highly recommend this novel!

We Are Here Forever
by Michelle Gish
I enjoyed this tiny little book, which started out as a webcomic. The book jacket says “The human race has vanished from the earth, replaced by innocent, playful, purple creathred called the Puramus. Colorful and cartoony, these absurd critters elicit smiles and giggles, but are they really as harmless as they seem?” In a series of short stories they have many adventures and misunderstandings with other beings, but ultimately they are striving for peace and understanding. I recommend this book. The book is in black and white and I did want to color in the pictures!

In a Dark, Dark Wood
by Ruth Ware
An invitation to a friends bachelorette party takes Nora by surprise. She has not seen the bride to be in over 10 years! Why invite her to such a special weekend? Yet Nora feels compelled to go. How can such a fun weekend turn into murder? And who did it? Nora struggles to remember. Could it have been her?????

One Thing at a Time 
by Cindy Glovinsky
This book is about 100 simple ways to live clutter free everyday. This book gave different ideas on how to become clutter free and stay that way. Some of the topics were applicable and some were not. It would depend on what type of clutter and how clutter free one wants to become. I did learn a couple of new ideas that I would incorporate in becoming clutter free.

Not If I Save You First
by Ally Carter
This is a book that was free from last years summer reading. The story starts with the young children and how a life was saved. What happened imbetween the years they met again? The story uses the friendship through paper until many years later they meet again. The story was full of suspense and kept me interested to see who they had become several years later and how their relationship had changed with the move that took place. It all was based on who would save each other. Great book.

Turtles All the Way Down
by John Green
Aza has a problem. She is obsessed with germs, and no matter what she does, she can’t seem to overcome the fear. Trying to be normal, she fights it every day, but it’s hard. Her best friend is very understanding. Her mother sends her to a doctor, who prescribes medication and provides therapy, Her boyfriend, who has his own problems with the disappearance of his father, accepts her faults. Through self-reasoning and looking to the future, she begins to realize that she can have a somewhat normal life, even though, she will probably always need to address her phobia.

Born a Crime
by Trevor Noah
This was a very interesting book. It really gave you an insight into apartheid. The book jacket says “The compelling, inspiring, and comically subline story of one man’s coming of age, set during the twilight of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed.” There was some humor in the book but overall it was a very serious depiction of what Trevor Noah had to do to survive. The stories of his mother were very compelling, especially the last one. I would highly recommend this book. Be warned some of the incidents he describes are very disturbing.

A Nantucket Wedding
by Nancy Thayer
A refreshing summer read; take it to your favorite beach! The story revolves around the assimilation of two families; each with their own history and baggage. While the characters are relatable, they are also quite predictable. There are some surprises, but story line is as you would expect. A very easy read; you can complete and move on to your next book!

Aunt Dimity & the Heart of Gold
by Nancy Atherton
The setting of this Christmas time mystery is a small village in England. One stormy night a stranger is stranded after her car lands in a ditch outside the home of Emma while she celebrates the holidays with neighbors and family. The storm leads to intrigue as the holiday party goers, both family and friends, and the stranger, are forced to spend the night until the storm passes. While searching for rooms to spend the night, a mysterious room is revealed that once functioned as a chapel by prior owners. The stranger helps Laurie and Emma discover the history of the chapel and the love triangle that was secreted behind the chapel walls. An easy read. Four stars!

To America — Personal Reflections of an Historian
by Stephen E. Ambrose
If you’re a fan of U.S. history — and especially if you’re a fan of Stephen Ambrose, one of our nation’s foremost historians — you should find this a worthwhile read. In reflecting on some of his earlier subjects — such as Presidents Nixon, Grant, Roosevelt, Jackson and Eisenhower, explorers Lewis and Clark, Crazy Horse and George Armstrong Custer, and the transcontinental railroad, among others — Ambrose provides additional insight into the personalities and events that he wrote about over the years. Ambrose covers a wide variety of subjects — ranging from racism to political correctness to women’s rights to civil rights and immigration, among others. He also candidly addresses some of the attitudinal changes he experienced over the years, having grown “older and wiser” and having access to new sources of information about many of his subjects. While Ambrose puts many of our nation’s decisions under the microscope (e.g., the Vietnam War, which he actively opposed as a college professor), when you’re finished reading this book, you’ll feel like you’ve had a lengthy conversation with someone who deeply loves America, warts and all.

Something’s Alive on the Titanic
by Robert Sterling
This was not a book sale gem like I’ve gotten in the past. First time reading this author and it certainly wasn’t something I couldn’t put down. The ending was just blah for me. In 1975 a British code breaker finds a secret code in the manifest of the Titanic and this spurs on an expedition to find crates of gold bullion that were smuggled onto the Titanic as nuts, bolts, and screws. The team not only finds the Titanic (years before Robert Ballard) but the attempt to enter the ship and recover the gold. Mysterious, unexplainable and frightening mishaps occur that result in the death of all aboard the ship except Derek Montague, the man who broke the code. Twenty years late, Derek finally comes clean to the US Navy about what happened aboard the Henry Morgan and joins another expedition led by the Naval Officer who plucked him out of the sea years earlier. This 1995 expedition is doomed to fail just as the first. Almost immediately things start going wrong. As soon as they attempt to enter the Titanic, they encounter a supernatural energy force, just as Montague’s team did 20 years earlier. The encounters eventually result in the death of a crew member. A parapsychologist who is part of the crew determines that this malignant force was a result of the multiple violent deaths and guilt those who died on the Titanic experienced and it is protecting their sunken tomb. Eventually they are forced to give up the expedition before they all die trying to retrieve the gold.

To the Brink
by Cindy Gerard
Ethan (a special forces soldier) and Darcy (American Consulate worker) meet at a US embassy in Peru and have an instant attraction. They have a torrid affair and then decide to get married before his unit redeploys. After several years of marriage their relationship falls apart and they divorce. Eight years later, Darcy calls and leaves a cryptic message for Ethan that she is in trouble and needs his help. The rest of the book revolves around him and his brothers trying to save her from the kidnappers who took her. The plot line was week and the book jumped around way too much for my liking between the past and present. I also didn’t like the reasons the two divorced in the first place. He clearly has PTSD and wants no help and she feels like he is withdrawn and secretive. Neither one ever has a conversation about this until he rescues her years later. The book is a super easy read though (one day by the pool), fast-paced and action packed, but lacking any real substance.

Ghosts of the Past
by Marco Vichi
The story takes place in Florence Italy. Inspector Bordelli is assigned the task of solving a murder of a wealthy citizen with next to no clues to work with. While working on that, he accidentally sees a vagrant he feels he knows from his past, takes him home and learns he is hiding from someone. I had never read this author before, I did enjoy the story, but felt the author went too much into naming all the actual streets traveled by the inspector. I do not know Florence, so I found myself skipping those parts.

Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
by David Sedaris
This is the second David Sedaris book that I have read in the past several weeks and it did not disappoint. Previously I read his newest book,Calypso,and it was laugh out loud funny. This book had the same effect. Once again,we meet his family members and his recollections of their interactions is hilarious.His observations on things and events in our ordinary lives are absurd and wonderful. I am looking forward to the next Sedaris book. They are quick reads,great beach choice.

Drive-Thru Dreams
by Adam Chandler
Author covers the history of fast food in America. Writing is quite over-the-top; author utilizes words causing many pauses to determine the meaning. While the book is mainly about prominent fast food chains, author touches upon historical events which have helped to shape this type of fate. It even extends to fast food in other countries. Slogged through hoping it would get better, but it did not.

I Know You
by Annabel Kantaria
I was hooked from the first page. The author did a great job of keeping me guessing. Although it is fiction, the story is believable. It reminds the reader of the dangers of social media and makes one question who they can trust. I would recommend this book for anyone who is looking for a story that grabs you from the start.

An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States
by Roxanne Dunbar-Qrtuz
As the title states this is a view of American history from the perspective of native Americans. In this book the author presents a no holds barred view of the treatment of the indigenous peoples throughout the new world by the white settlers from Europe. She explains how the Scots-Irish used the same warring and cruel methods that were used to subjugate Ireland in their treatment of the native population in the new world. She describes how the goal of genocide of the native population was clearly stated and implemented by the early settlers and continued well into the late 19th century. Inhumane tactics such as paying rewards for the scalps of native people, including women and children, random slaughter of the bison and germ warfare by supplying the native population with smallpox infested blankets were some of the methods used by the US government to eradicate the native population. The book also discussed the treaties made and broken and the land that was continually given to and then taken away from the natives. This book presents a view of American history than none of us learned in our history classes in school but should be included in every school’s curriculum going forward.

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI
by David Grann
This non-fiction book documents the murders of oil-rich members of the Osage Indian tribe in the early 20th century. No progress is made in arresting the perpetrators until the fledgling Bureau of Investigation under J. Edgar Hoover gets involved. Even then, undercover agents worked at great risk to identify the killers and bring them to justice. The author did extensive research in historical archives and by interviewing descendants of the victims. Yet, the book reads like a novel and presents an interesting, story-like narrative that describes a chilling conspiracy.

Lessons From Lucy
by Dave Barry
I saw this book at the library under the new books. I hesitated getting it because I thought it was going to be a sad story about an old dog dying. The cover said “The Simple Joys of an Old, Happy Dog”. But I could not resist that face of the dog on the cover and checked it out! The book is about how the author decides to make his own life happier and take lessons from Lucy his old dog. Lucy loves people, making new friends, doesn’t judge the “uglier” dogs, and lives for the day! This book was so funny! It reminded me of A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. The author had me laughing out loud. The good thing about this book is you do not have to be an animal lover to read it. The author writes about funny stories throughout his life. I would 100% recommend this book for everyone! You are guaranteed to laugh!

The Rosie Result
by Graeme Simsion
As the third book in the Rosie series, Don and Rosie now have an eleven year old son, who acts quite differently from other boys. His father has always been different, too, so it might be due to a genetic factor, autism. The school administrators have recommended testing, however, Hudson’s parents are not agreeable on the subject. So, Don decides to work with his son, and get help from his friends. Should he be trying to shape his son to fit into a certain mold of societal behavior? The result is surprising and enlightening.

Thirst: A Story of Redemption, Compassion, and a Mission to Bring Clean Water to the World
by Scott Harrison
I heard about this book while listening to the “Good Life Project” Podcast. Harrison was interviewed and his story sounded interesting, so I picked up his book. While the podcast did a good job of giving an overview of the content, it was great to read about how Harrison turned his life around in more detail. The book included color photos to illustrate some of the turning points in Harrison’s life. As a person interested in nonprofit, the UN Global Goals and addressing human needs, this was a great book. Harrison is inspiring in his unfailing quest to bring clean water to everyone everywhere and by sharing his great success and some huge failures, he maintains an unbreakable optimistic spirit. A secondary theme of the novel is his fraught relationship with God and his devotion to the church. A great read for anyone interested in charity: water, non profits, entrepreneurs, journeys of faith or the resilient human spirit.

Fifty Things That Aren’t My Fault: Essays from the Grown-Up Years
by Cathy Guisewite
If you were a fan of the “Cathy” comic strip, this will be an enjoyable read for you. In a series of brief essays, Guisewite explores her relationship with her aging parents, teenage daughter and finding her place in the middle. Some of the essays are funny and some made me teary-eyed. All are delivered with the same wry humor and insight she approached her comic strip. While there are some repetitive themes, she delivers a nice collection that could be read slowly (between other books) or all at once (beach chair time!).

Hardcore Twenty-Four
by Janet Evanovich
Stephanie Plum and her crew are at it again in this installment of Evanovich’s beloved bounty hunter series. While it is a ‘formula’ series, I don’t have a problem with that. Reading the Plum mysteries are a treat to myself after a year of serious academic reading. In this case, Evanovich does not fail to deliver on her character’s strengths, both humorous and romantic, as well as giving a case to Plum that is meaty and holds interest. While you know how the book will generally turn out, Evanovich weaves several threads together to give you a zany ride to the finish line (Grandma Mazar included!). A fun beach read or relaxing read in the hammock.

The End of Average: How We Succeed in a World that Values Sameness
by Todd Rose
Recommended to me by a school administrator, Rose lays out a very compelling argument regarding the mindset of “average” in our society. Well-researched and well paced; he shows how and why we can to have an “average” at all, and then turns the concept on its head to show why it’s slowing us down. As an educator, I certainly took his ideas to heart when it comes to developing lesson plans and assessments for our students. His concepts go beyond education, also centering on the workplace and how we measure success and failure. This would be a good read for anyone in a position like HR, education, giving feedback to others or a parent looking to understand their child’s abilities.

The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World
by Melinda Gates
YES – I am willing to say this might be my *favorite* book of the summer! I loved learning about Gates’ work; her mission, the foundation, her own life, her goals – she shares everything in a very easy to read, narrative format. I was moved to tears several times reading this and it’s another book in a long line of things I have read that are continually opening my perspective about the world. Brene Brown listed this as a book to give to all 2019 graduates and I couldn’t agree more. If you want to know more about the world, how there is work being done to make it better, but there’s still a long way to go, this is a great book. And, if you are interested in work being done to help women globally, Gates is at the heart of that conversation.

Wolfpack: How to Come Together, Unleash Our Power, and Change the Game
by Abby Wambach
Watching the speech that inspired this book would be helpful before/during/after reading the novel. I had seen it when it first came out and it was exciting to see Wambach develop ideas that she outlined in the speech. Especially after seeing the Women win the World Cup again this year, it’s great to see Wambach’s ideas about teamwork and the spirit of women coming together. I would recommend this book to anyone who works in a collaborative setting, male or female. Obviously she’s gearing it towards a female audience, but that doesn’t exclude the other gender. She’s got a lot of spirit, big dreams and plans and she lays out a great path forward.

Girl, Stop Apologizing: A Shame-Free Plan for Embracing and Achieving Your Goals
by Rachel Hollis
Full disclosure – I am a Rachel Hollis fan. I thoroughly enjoyed her first book, I follow her on Instagram, I listen to her podcasts….so this will be biased in favor of the book. Hollis’ voice is very real – it feels as though she’s speaking directly to you through her work. She is very focused on motivating women; unpacking what is holding us back and showing tangible ways forward. She’s got loads of tips and ideas for whatever your current situation is – whether you are single or married, with kids or not, in business or searching for your spark – she’s got it covered. If you want to know more about her life, I’d suggest reading her first book, as this one is more focused on the “shame-free plan” the title suggests. I think it’s a worthwhile read to see another opinion – take from her what you need and let the rest pass through.

Outer Order, Inner Calm : Declutter & Organize to Make More Room for Happiness
by Gretchen Rubin
The latest from Gretchen Rubin, best known for her work with the Happiness Project, focuses on exactly what the title says – creating order around you so you develop inner calm. The book is quick and easy to read, with great practical tips and ideas in it. I found myself returning to portions that spoke more to me (organizing clothes, for example) and skimming through other parts that weren’t as applicable. Instead of classifying this as “just another organizing book”, I liked Rubin’s idea that doing physical organizing creates mental calmness (so both spaces are organized). Even though I didn’t put her work into practice immediately, what I have found this summer is I am returning to her mantra (even my husband has picked up on it) as an organizing principle in the house. Who knows? Maybe reading this at the start of the summer influenced my projects thus far & if that’s true, I am better off for having spent some time with Rubin’s book. I also read this in the same time frame as her book on Habits – these 2 together make a nice pairing.

The Summer Guests
by Mary Alice Monroe
This novel is a great summer read! It is a story about friends and family and the support given and received by each. Revolving around a horse community, it brings to life the concerns of this community related to the severity of recent weather patterns. The characters each show signs of growth from the beginning of the story, all the way to the end. There are some stereotypical portrayals, but there are also surprises as well with some of the characters. Bring it to the beach; you won’t be disappointed.

Telling Tales
by Ann Cleeves
This is the second book in the Vera Stanhope series. I was somewhat disappointed in the book, as it was not as engaging to me as most of the author’s other books. This may be due to the book’s premise. Vera has been sent to a different jurisdiction than her usual one to investigate a 10-year-old murder. She is to serve as a fresh pair of eyes in the case when the woman convicted of the crime is found to be innocent. As a cold case, there is a lot of exposition on what happened in the past before the present-day investigation can begin, and I think this slows down the narrative. The last half of the book is more engaging.

A Serial Killer’s Daughter
by Kerri Rawson
Serial killers creep me out but when I saw this was written by the daughter of one, I wanted to hear her perspective since her voice deserves to be heard. She, her mother, her brother, and their extended family were also victims in many ways. She tells about her memories of her father and trying to reconcile the dad she knew with the devastating killer she learned he was at the age of 26 and her own mourning for the victims and their families (also victims), as well as eventually being pulled to turn to God in her pain. I was happy for her that in spite of all her pain as the result of her father’s despicable actions, she and her husband were able to go on to enjoy life together and have two beautiful children. I hope people will treat her with compassion throughout her entire life and feel it was very courageous of her to put her story out there.

Finding Zoe: A Deaf Woman’s Story of Identity, Love and Adoption
by Brandi Rarus and Gail Harris
Zoe (originally called Celine) was placed in foster care as a newborn baby, adopted for a short time, then given up and placed back in foster care because the original adoptive parents didn’t realize she had significant hearing loss and felt they didn’t have the right tools to care for her properly. Zoe, still a baby, was finally adopted again by Tim and Brandi Rarus – a beautiful deaf couple with three hearing sons. I absolutely loved this book and the tender, compassionate way in which Brandi told her own story and the stories of each family that cared for Zoe up until she and her husband adopted Zoe for good. For all involved in Zoe’s life, it includes their stories of heartbreak, hope, love, personal growth. It’s also the story of a dream come true for the author and I love that they decided to have an open adoption and how Brandi’s family wanted to and was able to still keep Zoe connected to everyone who took care of her and loved her as she got older. Additionally, I learned a lot of fascinating things about the deaf community that I think everyone should know and would definitely read this book again. Highly recommend!

When You Never Said Goodbye
by Meg Kearney
This novel is told through the perspective of Lizzie, who was adopted into a loving family as a baby and also yearns to find and learn about her birth mother. Lizzie’s story is told creatively through poetry and journal entries. She attends NYU and becomes close to a caring woman who plays guitar in the city. Lizzie, an aspiring poet, hopes and dreams this music and poetry loving woman could possibly turn out to be her birth mother. I won’t give away the ending. I appreciated the note from the author in which Meg Kearney discussed the similarities and differences to Lizzie in her own life. I didn’t realize until the end that this is the last book in a triology and hope to read the original two books soon (The Secret of Me and The Girl in the Mirror).

The Last Runaway
by Tracy Chevalier
Tracy Chevalier ,the author of Girl with the Pearl Earring and Virgin Blue,is a wonderful author. Since Historical Fiction is one of my favorite genres,this book was a great read. Honor Bright is an English Quaker who leaves her home to travel to Ohio in 1850. Alone and isolated,she feels no attachment to her new home. As her life changes and she tries to adapt,she is drawn into the activities of the Underground Railroad. The individuals she encounters along the way begin to help Honor see what her new life could be. This book was a fascinating insight into slavery and the Underground Railroad.

by David Baldacci
I have read all of the books with Amos Decker as the main character and unfortunately I thought this one would never end. It just went on too long to resolve the murders which of course was not what you expected. The original Amos Decker books were much better and I would suggest reading them before you read this one.

The Library of Lost and Found 
by Phaedra Patrick
The main character is given a book, which has a note in it, addressed to her. It is from her grandmother, but it is dated three years after she had supposedly died. She cared for her parents, who had already passed away, so she couldn’t question them about it. This led to a quest for information, which, in turn, unveiled a lot of surprises. Her entire world was turned upside down, and her decisions in life were regretted. This also led to an eventual change in her personality and her future plans.

Holy Ghost
by John Sandford
After a couple of seemingly, random shootings take place in a small town in Minnesota, Virgil Flowers of the Bureau of Apprehension is call in to investigate. In this town where these shootings take place, miraculous visions of the Virgin Mary have appeared to parishioners in the local Catholic church. Virgil has to decide if these shootings are somehow connected to the recent visions, or are indeed random. The plot takes many twists and turns. It had me guessing until the end .

Speak A Word For Freedom: Women Against Slavery
by Janet Willen and Marjorie Gann
This book profiles women from the 18th century to the present who spoke out and actively worked to stop slavery. Each chapter highlights a different female activist. I picked up this book because I wanted to learn more about Harriet Tubman’s fight against American slavery of black people in the 1700s and 1800s, which I did, but I ended up finding out about women I’d never learned about in school (!!). This book also covers enslavement in Asian, African, European, and Carribbean countries as well as the fight against modern-day international human trafficking. Both heart-breaking and hopeful, this book is a must-read for anyone interested in human rights.

The Good Cop
by Brad Parks
Once again Carter Ross, the investigative reporter for New Jersey’s largest newspaper, has solved the case. He of course along with others get into trouble and he comes near to death a couple of times. The book is a quick read and enjoyable as besides the mystery there is plenty of humor. I have read several of the series and have enjoyed them and will read more.

by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Ifemelu and Obinze are two young Nigerians,in love and dreaming of America. Ifemelu is smart and beautiful and leaves Nigeria for America for school. For the first time,she must confront what it means to be Black. Obinze hopes to follow her but is denied a visa and,instead,travels to London. His life as an undocumented immigrant is a daily struggle to survive and he is eventually deported back to Nigeria. They reunite fifteen years later in a changed Nigeria,finding again their love for each other and their homeland.This is a wonderful story,complex and vividly descriptive.

The Mountain Between Us
by Charles Martin
An excellent read. The plot begins with two people stranded at an airport that charter a plane to beat the storm. After bonding with the pilot before a crash landing they glean important life information which as they struggle to survive impacts their thought process. Ultimately, after being physically and mentally tested beyond normal indurance they reach safety and ultimately bring each other something special. The story high lights how humor, stoicism and determination can create success.

Blackberry Pie Murder
by Joanne Fluke
This mystery is a part of the Hannah Swensen series. If you enjoy light hearted mysteries and good food, this is the book for you. In this installment, Hannah is busy preparing for her mothers wedding and ends up the suspect of a murder when she is involved in a car accident. Can Hannah find the evidence she needs to prove her innocence? Bake your way with Hannah though this mystery with the yummy recipes included inside.

Big Sky
by Kate Atkinson
One of my favorite authors, Kate Atkinson does it again with a wonderful James Brodie mystery. It’s been over 9 years but he is back along with his son Nathan, daughter Marlee, his dog Dido, ex wife, ex girlfriend, everyone is back and in fine form. A fun romp about a serious matter human trafficking. It was a good read and every thing gets wrapped up nicely at the end. I highly recommend it!

Watcher in the Woods
by Kelley Armstrong
As always, this next book in the series was awesome. The twists just keep coming. The author paints a picture of a civilized wilderness that caters to those who need to hide. I can’t wait for the next book! It will be a very disappointing day when the series ends.

Before We Were Yours
by Lisa Wingate
This was a really good book and a quick read! The book takes place in Tennessee and involves a family with children who were raised by river gypsies. The children are taken from their riverboat and placed in a horrific orphanage house. The story weaves in current day and the unfolding of the children’s life experience of living in the Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage. I would say this is partly historical fiction as the orphanage and the woman heading the orphanage did exist as well as the horrific conditions that existed in this orphanage. The story draws you into the book and you want to keep reading to find out what happens to these poor children. I highly recommend it!

The Forgotten Road
by Richard Paul Evans
THE FORGOTTEN ROAD is the second in a series of three by Richard Paul Evans. Each book describes the self-discovery of a man who is thought to have died in a plane crash. He survived the crash through strange circumstances, but no one knows he is alive. He sets out to rediscover who he is and to decide what will make his life happy. In this book, he continues the 2nd portion of his walk along Route 66 from Chicago to California, meeting and learning from people on his journey toward happiness.

The Intuitionist
by Colson Whitehead
This was a difficult book to read. There was too much detail about the history and workings of elevators. It finally got interesting in Part 2. An accomplished elevator inspector, whose elevator crashed just after her inspection, thinks she was set up. The book describes the difficulties of successful black people in corporate white society. This was an interesting read, but not very exciting.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
by Betty Smith
The thing I did not like about this book is the Forward. I hat e when they give away parts of the story before you start reading it. That should be called Commentary and place at the back of the book. this is not a good book to read if you are sad or depressed. It dwells a lot on the destitute conditions in early 20th Century NYC immigrant neighborhoods. Otherwise it is a great story about the trials and triumphs of a family from the viewpoint of a young girl/teenager.

The Triumph of the Spider Monkey
by Joyce Carol Oates
“Spider Monkey” is a very strange story, told in an even stranger way. It’s reminiscent of “A Walk on the Wild Side,” but a lot more difficult to read. The writing style seems to try to emulate the thought process of a maniac. And it’s very uncomfortable inside Bobby’s mind. Joyce Carol Oates once described “Spider Monkey,” as “The most disgusting thing I ever wrote….” I certainly hope so!

The Banished Immortal – a Life of Li Bai
by Ha Jin
This is an interesting read if you are a Chinese history buff or you enjoy poetry. For others, it might be a tough read. It’s hard to follow all the Chinese names of People and places. It is also a sorrowful tale. But he is one of the most revered people in Chines cultural history.

To Keep the Sun Alive
by Rabeah Ghaffari
This book provides a glimpse into life in Iran in 1979. It focuses on the varied beliefs of one extended family and it’s neighbors, from young to old. Daily habits, food preparation, Persian tales, and other cultural practices are a backdrop to the seeds of change leading to a revolution. The young want to change the old order while the conservative elders and religious leaders want to maintain control. An interesting read for an age old story.

The Catcher in the Rye
by J. D. Salinger
This book is an easy read. Short chapters that you can put down if you need to and not loose your place. A good read for teenagers who can identify with the feelings and confusion of the central character. It gets a bit depressing after awhile, with his continual negativity about almost every experience. I was afraid the story would have a terrible ending. I couldn’t put it down out of curiosity.

Beautiful Bad
by Annie Ward
Mark Twain (among others) is credited with saying, “If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.” Annie Ward should have taken more time and written a shorter book. It is well written and suspenseful, but there is way too much background noise. I did not find any of the main characters to be likeable. I probably would have cared more about what happened to them if I had liked them. In spite of this, I found the suspense enjoyable, even though the ending was not as surprising as it could/should have been.

Auschwitz Lullaby
by Mario Escobar
A compelling novel told from the viewpoint of one mother during WWII. The focus was on her survival and that of her children. Historically, there was factual information, although the author did take some liberties in the telling of the story. This novel also focuses on another group of people persecuted by the Nazis, that of the gypsies of Europe. The book is an easy read and is not quite as graphic as some other novels written about camps run by the Nazis during WWII.

Ender in Exile
by Orson Scott Card
As a sequel to Ender’s Game, the third Formic War is over, and the hero is now faced with an uncertain future. All he has known, since he was a young boy, is preparing for battle. He is reluctant to return home, and chooses to travel to one of the planets that was inhabited by the enemy. There, he will be the governor and lead the colonists in establishing a new life. However, he is also searching for answers about the aliens. A surprising discovery helps in his quest for understanding, and leads to decisions about where he goes from here.

The Four Agreements
by Don Miguel Ruiz
Four stars for this book. On the surface, the advice here is obvious, but on a deeper level, you have to really think about each ‘agreement’ to incorporate it. In the hustle of daily living, we somehow stepped away from the common sense in these actions. It’s worth a read, and a re-read, and periodic reminders to yourself. There is more behind each agreement than you first think, and that is enlightening. It’s a relatively short book, and easy to stay engaged reading it.

Queen Bee
by Dorothea Benton Frank
It was a wonderful book to listen to on CD. The story takes place on Sullivan’s Island, GA. The main character Holly is a beekeeper who immerses herself in the next door neighbor’s 2 young boys and is enamored with their dad. She has a hate-hate relationship with the boy’s stepmother who eventually dies trying to kill the bees. Holly’s southern charm is endearing making the CD very pleasant to listen to.

The Perfect Couple
by Elin Hildebrand
I listened to this book on CD. The story is about a wedding that is derailed by the drowning of the maid of honor. Each family member is interrogated and secrets are revealed. The twist and turns of the story for each family member and friends link the characters to each other. It is a great summer read or listen.

Becoming Grandma
by Lesley Stahl
A must read for Grandmas, the author interviews many grandparents and gives tips and facts about babysitting. She, herself, has become a grandmother of two girls, and she finds it to be the most rewarding experience of her life. She discusses the new generation and their need for childcare. She also emphasizes the statistics that show that grandparents live longer and healthier, when they become involved in their grandchildren’s lives. As a grandmother, I can relate to many of the adventures and possible problems related to grandparenting. It is interesting to see the changes in parenting and the need for more help. But, it also shows the fulfilling and lasting pleasures of being a grandma and grandpa.

Behind Closed Doors
by B.A. Paris
This was a thriller I have been meaning to read for a while. It starts out slowly portraying the perfect marriage of the main characters. As it progresses it gets more and more scary. What really is terrifying about this book is it is something that can truly happen in real life. It makes you wonder what people are really like when they are “behind closed doors”. There was one littls twist I did not see coming. It was a good book, I would recommend it to anyone eho enjoys thrillers.

We Must Be Brave
by Frances Liardet
“Taking place over five decades, we follow the life of Ellen Parr in a small village in England. The story begins when Ellen finds an unclaimed girl asleep in the bus that has brought evacuees from the the bombed out city of Southampton to her village during WW2. Based on her troubled childhood, Ellen believes that she would never want to have children. However, after she takes the small girl, Pamela, home she grows to love her. Though she searches for Pamela’s family , it isn’t until the end of the war that someone shows up to clim her. This devastates Ellen and haunts her throughout her life .
This was good book. The story moves along. Though it is well written, it can be somewhat melodramatic at times.”

Who Moved My Cheese?
by Spencer Johnson, M.D.
This little book is the story of 4 mice who live in a maze and how they each react differently to a change in their world. You will identify with one or more of the personalities, depending on the change you are experiencing and how you manage different types of change. As I am currently going through a few very unexpected changes that are completely out of my control, I needed to read this book to give me perspective. It allowed me to move through those changes in a healthier, reflective and fun way. If you have never read this book or if you read it previously, please read it — for the first time or read it again! It benefits anyone going through change.

Difficult Women
by Roxane Gay
This book is a wonderfully written series of short stories about “difficult” women, those who make a stand, those in desperate situations and still demonstrate strength, and those for whom life is simply too difficult. The women in these stories are depicted in many different situations and address frankly about what it’s like to be female. The men in the stories vary greatly including predators, those who abandoned or depended too heavily on the women in their lives, and men who are very kind, sincere, sensitive, patient and protective. This book also speaks to women’s relationships. The stories range from painful, frightening, bizarre to redeeming. Although they were emotionally difficult to read, I Will Follow You and How were two of my favorites.

Weave of Absence
by Carol Ann Martin
“This was a very quick read. The setting is Brook Hollow, a small town in North Carolina. Della Wright owns a weaving studio that is attached to a tea/coffee shop owned by her friend Jenny. Della is hosting a bridal shower for her friend and employee, Marnie. Marnie has only known her fiancee for a month and already they are planning a wedding in the very near future. Marnie arrives at her surprise shower with her fiancee in tow. Her friends are all excited to meet him as she has been keeping him to herself. However, Della notices him in what appears to be a heated argument with one of her weaving students. The next day, Della goes to the home of that student and shockingly finds her murdered. Of course, Della becomes involved in the ensuing investigation. There are many surprises along the way and they make for a very satisfying “”who done it””!

James Monroe
by Gary Hart
“Our sixth president, James Monroe is remembered primarily for two things: for being the last of the “”Virginia Dynasty-following George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison–and for issuing the Monroe Doctrine, his statement of principles in 1823 that the Western Hemisphere was to be considered closed to European intervention, colonization, and economic degradation. Author Gary Hart, former senator from Colorado, views Monroe as prescient and a leader ahead of his time, whose priorities and accomplishments in establishing America’s national security have a great deal in common with chief executives in our current time.
In complete contrast with his predecessors Jefferson and Madison, Monroe was the consummate warrior. He enlisted in the Continental army at the age of seventeen and served with distinction in many pivotal battles. (he is predominantly featured as Washington’s aide in the iconic painting “”Washington Crossing the Delaware.) Throughout his career as a diplomat, senator, secretary of war, and president, he most valued the need for secure borders and strong relations with neighbors, believing that without this, the American people could never be safe in their independence. As president he carried out an incredible series of treaties, annexations, and military confrontations that would procure America’s homeland against foreign attack for almost two hundred years. He was the last–and second of only two-veterans of the Revolutionary War as president of the United States

Why Wall Street Matters
by William D. Cohan
Do you believe Wall Street is solely for the rich? This book sheds light on the ins and outs of the market and its importance to our overall economy. Providing history and insight, having worked as an investment banker, the author is able to provide first hand knowledge. In addition, the interaction between government and banking is detailed. A small book with a lot of information; recommend reading it.

Financial Freedom
by Grant Sabatier
The book is very informative, but very hard core. There are way too many charts to digest for the average layperson. Information provided is helpful, but need more of a background story on the author to fully appreciate. If you are interested in achieving financial freedom ASAP, read this book. Keep in mind, everything in moderation!

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
by JK Rowling
It’s been years since I first read this and I decided to reread it since my daughters have been reading them now. What an amazing imagination! This book reminds me why I love to read: to escape to another world. I cannot imagine anyone that would not enjoy this book. It is a rare treat!

Wolf Hollow
by Lauren Wolk
“Although I found this book on the Mighty Girl website, I couldn’t resist reading it when the advertisement said: If you like To Kill A Mockingbird…
I thought that this was a fantastic story. I loved watching Annabelle grapple with managing the new bully at school. I think this story has something for readers of all ages. It truly struck a chord in my heart and I imagine it will in yours also.”

The Rest of the Story
by Sarah Dessen
Nice quick story about a 17 year old girl learning about her family roots. She ends up going to spend 3 weeks in a lake community with her mother’s family who she hasn’t seen since she was 4. Her mother passed away and her father never spoke much about her side of the family. She meets all her cousins she didn’t even know she had but all know of her and her story. As she learns more and more about this side of her family she learns more and more about herself and how to be a more outgoing person.

Where The Crawdads Sing
by Delia Owens
Set on the North Carolina coast,this is the story of Kya,called the “Marsh Girl” by the local residents. Abandoned as a young child by her family members,one by one,she survives on her own in the wild marshes. After years of loneliness and isolation,she opens herself to two young men. When one of them is found dead,the locals immediately suspect Kya. The descriptions of life in the marsh and Kya’s connection to it were wonderful. This was an interesting mix of coming-of-age story,nature primer and murder mystery.

There’s a Word for That
by Sloane Tanen
Although this book is not engrossing as the review would have you to believe, it is sometimes funny and endearing. The author did a great job creating love among dysfunction. I think everyone with a family can relate. The characters all love each other at the end of the day. Even the most “screwed up” character found someone she could love and start a family with. After reading this book, I will look for other storied by this author.

Financial Freedom
by Grant Sabatier
Selected this book after listening to investment strategies being discussed over the dinner table. The book is one person’s view on how to become financially independent. It provides tips, tools and suggestions, especially focused on investing as soon as possible. It will make you analyze the way you look at money and what your time is worth in making that money. I felt that there were too many charts in the book, especially for a young adult who is just staring out. However, after reading, I will utilize many of the tips to maximize my finances; focusing on the future more than the here and now.

Summer of ’69
Elin Hilderbrand
A great summer read! This novel provides distinct historical events taking place during the summer of 1969, but at its core is the family dynamic. The dialogue and behaviors of the characters cause you to say, “what were they thinking”, but then again, it was 1969. The author provides her characters with both flaws and growth opportunities, allowing the reader to sympathize and revel in their successes. As with all her novels, this is an easy read; especially appropriate as we celebrate the summer of 1969, fifty years later!

Spine of the Dragon
by Kevin J. Anderson
This book seemed very familiar – not because I’ve ever read it before, but because it bears a striking similarity to several other popular fantasy series. That said, I enjoyed this story, which is clearly intended to be part 1 of a series. Thousands of years ago, the god Kir created the wreth, a superior race who then went on to create humans. Almost extinct following an ancient war, the human survivors are shocked to discover that two warring bands of wreths have awakened and intend to wake and kill the dragon, Ossus, thus fulfilling the prophecy that doing so will cause Kir to return and remake the world with the race of wreths as its focus. Still at odds with one another, can the tribes and kingdoms of humans come together to fight the wreths and ensure their own survival or will their own political and personal agendas keep them distracted?

Cemetery Road
by Greg Iles
There are no heroes in this book, only flawed and utterly fascinating people who seemed so real that after I finished the book I felt like I should be able to pop into Nadine’s bookstore/coffee shop to check up on what they’ve been up to since the end of the book. The suspenseful plot twisted and turned right up to the last page and kept me guessing. It starts with the murder of an amateur archaeologist and ends with the protagonist, Marshall, discovering not only who did it and why, but who he is and why. Besides the characters and plot, there is family drama, political intrigue, a love triangle or two, and people coming to terms with their own past, present, and future. Don’t start reading this book if you know you have to be somewhere else in an hour – you won’t want to put it down!

by Helen Oyeyemi
The premise of this book seemed intriguing – a mother and daughter living in England with a secret past tied to a mysterious homeland who have a special gingerbread recipe that may even be magic… Unfortunately, I was not able to make sense of certain parts of the plot, which served to distract me from an otherwise interesting and very well-written book. (I still haven’t figured out why certain people develop double pupils in their eyes, which the book made a point of mentioning but never explaining.) Clearly, there is something in the gingerbread, but I just couldn’t quite make out what it was meant to be.

Heads you win
by Jeffrey Archer
I like this author! This story, and numerous other’s I have read by Mr. Archer, move along and tell a historically accurate fictitious account of the characters. The story of a mother and son who escape communist Russia and have the choice of emigrating to Britain or the USA is the premise for this book. Archer chooses both plot lines! He alternates the chapters as the main character in London The reader sees how living in London would turn out, and how life in the USA would be. A great read! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Dry
by Jane Harper
Twenty years after Aaron left his childhood home, he returns to attend the funeral of his childhood best friend who was murdered along with his wife and child. Old wounds die hard. Aaron’s mysterious disappearance after a death of another childhood friend 20 years ago is resurrected, as the town blames Aaron for the then teenager’s death. As a policeman, Aaron teams up with the local police officer in this desolate Australian town to solve the mystery of both deaths. This is a good who dunit. The chapters move from present day to twenty years ago. Both murders are revealed and the role Aaron may have played in them. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Boston Girl
by Anita Diamant
A retrospective look at 70 years of Addie Baum’s life is shared in a letter format to her granddaughter, Ava. Addie is the youngest of three girls whose parents emigrated to New York City in the early 1910’s. We follow Addie as she and her sisters struggled with the realities of child labor, tenement housing, poor working conditions, and poverty. Addie makes her way through life trying to reconcile her mother’s anger at the new world they live in and her inability to accept progress for the women in the 20th century. Although the book starts out somewhat depressing, it quickly picks up as Addie adapts to all that comes her way. ⭐️⭐️⭐️

City of Girls 
by Elizabeth Gilbert
Best selling author of Eat, Pray, Love takes the reader into New York City of the 1930s, where we follow along the life of a 19 year old who flunked out of college. Her exasperated parents have sent her to live with an aunt who produces plays and musicals way off Broadway. The lives of women in the 1930s is explored as they relate to the theatre world and later in the book, the effects of WW II on so many people in the city of New York. I give it ⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Red Scrolls of Magic
by Cassandra Clare
This book is book one of its own series however it is also part of an ongoing series called The Shadowhunter Chronicles. It was ok to read this book without reading the previous ones but I think it would have been more exciting had I read the others and been more invested into the characters. This is a fantasy YA novel that follows a gay biracial couple. I like that there are more books covering LGBTQ characters now for our youth to access to. I think it helps it to be more accepted and helps kids feel like they are not alone. Anyway the couple is supposed to be on vacation when problems arise with a cult that they need to stop. The story is filled with a lot of action and a suspenseful plot.

The Death of Mrs Westaway
by Ruth Ware
A young woman grows up on the British coast, with her mom as her only family. Her mother never shared any information about her father. When mom is no longer around, she finds out that there is indeed many other family members. A funeral brings about a will reading, everyone is shocked. What ties does this girl have to these people and their secrets? Hope she lives long enough to find out.

Ender’s Game
by Orson Scott Card
After the first and second invasion of an alien species, a training group is formed, consisting of select children. They are being pushed to their limit, so that they will be able to handle a third invasion. One child stands out, Ender Wiggins. Through battle simulations, some will be eliminated and others will be promoted. Ender proves to be an outstanding opponent. At the end, with his final test, he realizes that it wasn’t just a game.

by David Sedaris
David Sedaris is a wonderful writer,observant and funny. This is a laugh out loud book. The action revolves around the Sea Section,an oceanfront cottage in North Carolina that Sedaris owns. It is a gathering place for Sedaris and his partner,Hugh,as well as his four siblings and his father. A place where they fight,share stories and relive family memories. It is also about facing middle age and your own mortality. Funny,absurd,thoughtful…this is a delightful book!

Millionaire Teacher
by Andrew Hallam
Picked this book to learn more about investing, smartly. It was informative, providing relatable examples for the every-day person. As a young adult, I found it to be inspirational. I now understand that by starting early in investing, I can accumulate more wealth than someone who might wait until their 30′ or 40’s. Sound strategies were suggested, tempered with the realities of market fluctuations. A must read for any HS student!

Murder on Trinity Place
by Victoria Thompson
This is the 22nd book in the Gaslight Mystery series and it is absolutely wonderful. While other series sometimes drag a bit after this many installments, this one just continues to entertain. Although the characters continue to evolve, they never lose the traits that originally made them so enjoyable. As the book begins, Sarah (a midwife) and her husband Frank (a former police detective) are celebrating by ringing in the new year (1900) at Trinity Church in NYC. They notice the father of a neighbor and he is acting rather strangely. They attempt to help him and offer him a ride home, but he refuses. The next morning they learn that he was murdered and found near the church. The daughter of the victim asks Frank and Sarah to investigate her father’s death. They uncover many interesting details about the man’s private life, family and business practices. The reader is taken along on the adventure and it is quite a ride.

The Handmaid’s Tale
by Margaret Atwood
A veritable classic that I had never really thought about reading until it came up recently (I forget where). Wow – the horrifying life lived by Offred in a country that is kind of a cross between a communist country and a…strict Christian state? is made even more horrifying when you find out that she once lived a life that we would recognize in current times. The glimpses of fear, power, and hypocrisy are all too familiar. A harsh “reminder” to appreciate the world/country we live in, and to exercise our rights to vote and participate in government.

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing
by Hank Green
I chose this book because I thought I was familiar with the author, though I knew nothing about the plot. Turns out I was wrong, but it was a great read. I’m not sure how I felt about the individual characters, particularly the first-person protagonist, but the twists and surprises kept the book going. The whole alien creature aspect was weird (since I didn’t know what I was getting into) but it keeps you wondering what happens next. I had a hard time empathizing with, but was fascinated by, the intense desire to be #1 on social media. Interesting conflict between doing what is right and/or best and doing what keeps oneself in front and most popular.

The People vs. Alex Cross
by James Patterson
I enjoyed reading this book in the Alex Cross series. Alex Cross is on trial murder and is being called a trigger happy cop. While suspended from the police force he opens his own counseling practice. When many blond women are being kidnapped all over the DC area, he has a patient who is the father of a missing girl. This was a quick read and had me wanting to keep reading.

The Writing Life 
by Annie Dillard
It could be that I simply misunderstood the author and her intent with this book. However, I’m not sure what to call it – part memoir, part scolding lecture, part philosophy? There were sections that truly annoyed me, where the author seemed to put screenwriters in a much lower tier than novelists. And the lengthy sections about her interaction with a stunt pilot were, well, too long. I did take away two important truisms: The writer is always influenced by what he/she has read, and if you don’t “love sentences” (that is, love the language and all the nuances of words), you shouldn’t be a writer. Perhaps others could get more from this book, and appreciate its tone.

by Tara Westover
The book is the recollection of the author, growing up in a non-conventional manner, striking out on her own. It touches upon mental illness and fanatical religious beliefs. At its core is family and a need for acceptance, despite the costs. Not an easy read; difficult to process this way of life having no exposure to same. As the reader, I was left questioning the power of family and the absolute need of familial love.

Last Year of the War
by Susan Meissner
This was such a lovely read. It’s an historical fiction novel and the story of friendship that extends 6 decades. Two young girls meet at an interment camp in the US, one of German descent and one of Japanese descent. That sounds terrible enough but then they both wind up being “repatriated” to the countries of their parents origins. Both of these girls are American citizens, both 14, sent to where their parents came from many years after they came to America. They struggle and find new lives all the while searching to reconnect with each other to finish the childish book they started as teens. Poignant page turner. Would definitely recommend this.

The Lost Man
by Jane Harper
This is an excellent mystery set on a ranch in the Outback of Australia. Three brothers own the family cattle ranch. One day two brothers find their middle sibling dead of dehydration miles from his car, which contains food, fluids, and emergency supplies. How could he have wandered away when he obviously knew the consequences? Amid the grief, suspicion starts to grow, and the elder brother wonders about the effect of the isolation and extreme elements on his family. The book is very atmospheric and suspenseful, and the characters are well drawn. I think this book is as good as Harper’s award-winning debut novel, The Dry.

All the Missing Girls
by Megan Miranda
A local girl goes missing after attending the fair in a small North Carolina town. She vanishes without a trace. Ten years later, Nicolette Farrell gets called back to the tiny town she left for Philadelphia years ago. Memories come flooding back as yet another girl goes missing. Did they just run away or is it something more sinister. Lots of townspeople with lots of secrets. Good beach read

One Perfect Lie
by Lisa Scottoline
Fans of Lisa Scottoline will be pleased with an intense and gripping thriller that is set in her familiar Pennsylvania/Philadelphia surroundings but does not include the familiar Bennie Rosato and her law firm, nor Mary DiNuzio and her family. The clever story, that begins with a frightening scenario that will be orchestrated by a high school teacher (the main character), conjures up grim possibilities. However, with a surprising detour, the reader is taken in an unexpected direction and the twists and turns are part of an unexpected journey. The first part of the book introduces us to several key families with children in the high school central to the story. Scottoline’s scenes related to the high school are detailed and entertaining, and will bring back memories for many of us. It is disappointing that the families introduced in the first part of the story are not continued through to the end, even in an epilogue that would satisfy the reader’s curiosity and complete the characterizations. But, for dedicated Scottoline fans, this book will likely be a dramatic shift in expectations but a good read nonetheless.

Pretend I’m Dead 
by Jen Beagin
I enjoyed this book, even though I read the second one “Vacuum in the Dark” first, not realizing there was a first book. Pretend I’m Dead was very good and I do love her writing style. The character of Mona is fascinating and I like reading about all her shenanigans! Some of the characters overlap in the books, but I would have loved to have more story about her friend Jesus which she introduced in her first book at the end and then in the second book had him move away in the beginning, so not much on him. I do highly recommend this book, and possibly you should read them in order!

The Hive
by Orson Scott Card
As a sequel to The Swarm and a prequel to the Ender series, the world is facing another battle with the Formics, an alien civilization. They seem to be controlled by a hive queen, who gives them orders telepathically. They are very bright and very curious about the human race. However, they are also dangerous, and seem to be motivated in destroying Earth for their own purposes. There is no conclusion at the end, so the author will probably continue the series.

The Shadow War
by Jim Sciutto
The chief national security expert for CNN, journalist Sciutto explores a vast array of dangers to the standing of the United States in the world order, with an emphasis on the real threats posed by Russia and China. “This is a book about what happens when the enemies of the West realize that while they are unlikely to win a shooting war, they have another path to victory,” he writes. Throughout, the author’s tone is mostly alarmist in nature, as he explains why he believes naïve and/or incompetent U.S. policymakers are ceding influence to the increasingly aggressive Chinese and Russians. Sciutto views the nationalism around the globe as a deadly game of winners and losers with few shades of grey. He rarely portrays the U.S. government and military as the perpetrators of unwelcome aggressions across national borders. A hawkish book that will likely please “America Firsters” and xenophobes but might seem unbalanced to those who decry several centuries of U.S. aggression around the globe.

Henry, Himself
by Stewart O’Nan
Henry Maxwell is 75,a retired engineer and a loving husband and father.A lifelong resident of Pittsburgh,Henry has spent his life as honorable and hardworking. It’s 1998 and Henry is feeling as if the world has left him behind. His wife,Emily,the love of his life,still is sometimes a mystery to him. This is the story of an ordinary man trying to find his way through life as he feels his physical strength and memory being to desert him.I loved Henry and while this book is not filled with action and drama,it made me feel good and I was sorry to reach the end.

The Simple Path to Wealth
by J.L. Collins
If you’re looking for a simple, easy-to-understand guide to your money — specifically, how to get out of debt, save, invest, and even become financially independent– then this book is for you. No more confusing terminology; JL Collins breaks down the investing world into the basic facts you need to know to take control of your financial life. He even recommends specific low-cost index funds that will super-charge your savings decades into the future. Thousands of investing books offer conflicting advice; skip them and go straight to the source: JL Collins shows you how to get started today.

by Nathan Makaryk
Everyone is familiar with Robin Hood & his Band of Merry Men from all the literary & Hollywood treatments. He premise behind Nathan Makaryk’s Nottingham is an interesting take on the legend, but it eventually falls flat. The story start out with Robin of Locksley being the body double (really?) of Richard the Lionhearted during he beginning of the Third Crusade. He is sent to find a missing shipment of weapons destined for the war that everyone assumed was hijacked in England & didn’t get lost somewhere along the less than reliable transportation system of the 12th century. Robin finds that the weapons were accidentally hijacked in Sherwood Forest by the familiar characters who are actually peasants hiding from the law because they couldn’t pay their war taxes. The Lady Marion is running the show while playing politics, trying to make their lives better. Characters with no formal education quote Green philosophers. Peasants argue over the architecture of Nottingham Castle, when the term was not used until he 16th century. Everyone’s character is driven by a very jarring 21st century political outlook of their personal world, speak in 21st century vernacular, both of which are initially annoying, then ultimately kill the reader’s enjoyment. The author has very well develop characters but he badly misuses them in the overall story. Unfortunately a good story concept ruined by poor telling.

The Darwin Affair
by Timothy Mason
Charles Dickens introduced the police detective Mr. Bucket in his Bleak House. Bucket was based on the real life Chief Detective Inspector Charles Field, the central character in Tim Mason’s The Darwin Affair. Field assigned to guard Queen Victoria and Prince Albert during a public appearance, witnesses an assassination attempt. Field suspects that the attempt was not being made on the queen but on Albert because of his support of Charles Darwin and his newly published The Origin of the Species. The book is filled with actual historical personages many of them acting as the story’s villains. In Decimus Cobb, a former church choirboy, it also has one of the most psychopathic killers to be found in literature. Hannibal Lector is a Sunday school teacher compared to Cobb. After each scene with Cobb I wanted to take a shower to wash off the psychological slime he left behind. Chief Detective Inspector Field is confronted by disbelief because of his conspiracy theory, but after a series of nasty murders finally convinces Prince Albert of the danger he faces. The story is well paced, the characters well drawn and memorable. The book is well researched and historically accurate. Mason intersperses the conspiracies, abuses, and murders with touches of humor to offset the fear and gloom, include a memorable scene where Dickens meets Field on a London street and berates him for “stealing” his Mr. Bucket character. Be prepared for an exhilarating roller coaster ride of a book that is well worth the price of a ticket.

Before She Was Found
By: Heather Gudenkauf

This book was similar to other stories about kids harming their “friend” for the sake of an urban legend. I found myself getting angry at the characters for not speaking truthfully. I felt great heartache for the child who was hurt. The ending was very surprising. Without giving anything away, it was not at all what I expected. I would recommend this book and author.

Whose Waves These Are
by Amanda Dykes
I was drawn to this novel because of a sentence on the back of the book: “In the wake of WWII, a grieving fisherman submits a poem to a local newspaper asking readers to send rocks in honor of loved ones to create something live-giving – but the building halts when tragedy strikes.” I found myself drawn into all of the different characters’ lives and how they were intertwined, and brought together through Robert/Bob Bliss and his grand-niece, Annie. It is a faith-based novel, mainly noticeable toward the end. I really appreciated the author’s note, which was a letter to her readers. Beautiful writing and very highly rated on GoodReads.

I Am a Seal Team Six Warrior
by Howard Wasdin
The author is now a chiropractor after serving 12 years in the military. He sees it as another way to help people which is what he set out to do from the beginning. This book is about his experiences as a Seal Team Warrior. He was born in Florida to a 16 year old girl. He had a rough life and was beaten regularly since age 4 by his mom’s boyfriend, who later became his step father. AS he got older he worked in his uncles watermelon field in Georgia. In high school he joined Junior ROTC. He enjoyed the discipline and the structure. He went on to Search and Rescue then on to Seal training. Out of the 100 trainees he was with, he was the only one who passed. Whenever his training or his missions got tough he would think to himself “I’d rather be doing this than getting a beating”. It was tough to read about his experiences but I admire all he did with his life.

Toward a True Kinship of Faiths
by Dalai Lama
The Dalai Lama is a Buddhist monk in Exile from Tibet. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989. He sees love and compassion as the highest ideals of Buddhism. In this book he provides insight in to major world religions. He does not speak English fluently so he relies on a translator most of the time. This is why the book can be a slow read at times. He repeats things in order to make them clearer. The focus in this book is the importance of building mutual respect and understanding of all religions. I highly recommend this book.

American Lion
By: John Meacham

Any student of American history will enjoy this well-researched, easy-to-read biography of Andrew Jackson. Borrowing from a vast array of resources (including many previously-undiscovered documents and letters to/from Jackson’s circle of friends/family and political confidants), John Meacham (one of our foremost historians) provides new insight into the intriguing personality that was our nation’s 7th president. The book focuses almost exclusively on Jackson’s presidency (1829-1837). It covers many of the issues with which Jackson wrestled, such as the nullification crisis of 1832-33, the ongoing battle to do away with the US Bank, a cabinet that was not always on the same page, and his tenacious handling of the so-called “Indian problem” that culminated in the “Trail of Tears”. While over 180 years have passed since Jackson was succeeded in the White House by Martin Van Buren — and e-mails have replaced letters as a communication tool — the political intrigue and wheeling-dealing of the 1830s are often mindful of today’s headlines.

Norman Tuttle on the Last Frontier
by Tom Bodett
This book was a fun read about a boy, Norman Tuttle, growing up in Alaska. The author, Tom Bodett, is best known for his ad lib in the commercial for Motel 6– “We’ll leave the Light On”. He is a good storyteller who writes vivid imagery throughout the book. Each chapter could be read as a separate short story but it pulls together as a novel. His character doesn’t go looking for trouble but it sure has away of finding him. His life is full of ups and downs and Norman sure learns a lot.

by Brad Thor
The book jacket of Backlash, states it is one of the all time thrillers and it is true. Thor brings back his favorite operative Scot Harvard and his black op group. If a spy thriller story is watching you’re looking for this a book for you. Within the story the reader is given the complete character makeup of this deep cover operative. While many of characters have been in Thor other books the storyline is easily picked up by first time readers.

Broken Bone China
by Laura Childs
This is the latest in the Tea Shop Mystery series featuring Theodosia Browning as an amateur sleuth who owns a thriving tea shop in Charleston, SC. I find this to be a thoroughly entertaining series. The characters are wonderful, and through the capable writing of Laura Childs the reader becomes ensconced in the beauty of the surroundings and the excitement of the moment. Theodosia and her good friend and tea master Drayton are enjoying a hot air balloon ride after catering a tea for a balloon club. As they are floating above the park along with several other hot air balloons, they witness the unthinkable. A drone flies directly into a neighboring balloon. Horrified, they watch as the balloon explodes sending its three passengers to their untimely demise. One of the victims is the CEO of a local company. It becomes clear that this was a deliberate act. Hence, the mystery begins and Theo and Drayton become entangled in the investigation into who committed this heinous crime and why.

The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee

By: David Treuer

If you read Dee Brown’s “Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee” (which covered the plight of Native Americans during the period 1860-1890, ending in the last major battle between Native Americans and US government troops at Wounded Knee Creek in 1890), you should find this book a worthy sequel. David Treuer’s book covers the post-Wounded Knee period (1890-Present). In doing so, it details the US government’s ongoing efforts to deal with Native Americans. The book details many well-meaning, but questionable, efforts to “Americanize” Native Americans. Just as often, however, it touches on the ongoing poverty and alcoholism that plague Native Americans, often on reservations that were supposed to be a remedy for these ills. On a more positive note, the book also details numerous “modern” success stories, including those of economic independence achieved by many Indian tribes through their involvement with the casino/gaming industry.

The Pioneers 
by David McCullough
Excellent book about the settling of the state of Ohio. Pioneers from Massachusetts went west to the Ohio River area and settled the town of Marietta. McCullough describes how Ohio became the first state to abolish slavery in the U.S. and set up the first public funding for education. The goal of one of the founders, Manasseh Cutler, and later his son, Ephriam Cutler, were instrumental in ensuring the state accomplished these two feats.

A Man Called Ove
by Fredrik Backman
The story is about a man named Over, who is best described as a cranky ole curmudgeon who is a staunch supporter of rules in his neighborhood and community and always degrades other people as of they are brainless. The story unfolds telling of Ove’s life – the disappoints and sad events from.when he was a young boy to present day. Ove wants nothing to do with people or to be bothered by others but he finds people are drawn to him and soon enough, he has found an interesting group of friends, much to his chagrin. I’ve reminds me of the character Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory. I listened to this book on a Playaway and I really enjoyed the story!

The Cemetery Keeper’s Wife
by Maryann McFadden
This book by a local author is set in Hackettstown, particularly at Union Cemetery on Mountain Avenue. Newly married Rachel Miller moves to Union Cemetery with her husband, the 7th generation cemetery keeper. Rachel is fascinated by a large monument to Tillie Smith, who died in 1886 defending her honor. The quest to find out more about Tillie Smith becomes an obsession with Rachel, especially when events in her life seem to parallel those of Tillie. The story alternates between the current day and 1886. It’s neat to read about places in Hackettstown that are mentioned in the book and how they appeared in 1886. The story is interesting, but it is not a page turner.

Firefighting: The Financial Crisis and Its Lessons
by Ben Bernanke, Timothy Geithner, and Henry Paulson
Well written and very informative. No ghost writer was mentioned, but I suspect the three experts provided input to a professional writer who applied consistency of style. I think they got a little carried away with the firefighting analogy, even to the extent of naming chapters “Dry Tinder,” “The First Flames.” “The Inferno,” etc. It also seemed more than a little self-serving as they justified their own actions during the crisis. In my opinion, the two biggest omissions were the failure to mention the Cash for Clunkers program, and the fact that they often said that “funds were made available,” but never told where those funds came from. In spite of these shortcomings, I think this should be required reading for anyone who may be involved in any way with the NEXT financial crisis.

Betrayal in Time
by Julie McElwain
This is the fourth book in the time travel series, where a young woman has been transported back to the 1800’s. She was a former member of the FBI, and has dealt with many homicide cases. She can’t seem to return to her own time, so she has made the best of it. Besides having a love interest, she is involved in figuring out mysterious deaths in the community. The author teases the reader until the end, because it is very difficult to figure out the identity of the killer. Even when you think that you know, the culprit turns out to be someone else. The ending of the book hints at another book in the series.

Deep Harbor 
by Fern Michaels
The book is about a character, C.D., who works as an aide for a Congressman. When her boss commits suicide she is convinced it has to be murder. Her investigation leads her down a dangerous path. The book is easy to read but when you think it is over, something else pops up. The characters in the book are interesting and likeable. The book starts off as a political mystery and changes to romance towards the end. Enjoyable book.

by Simon Kernick
Terrorists!! London transit and a luxury hotel. Although this story hits too close to what is actually going on in our world today, it is a page turner! I could not stop turning the pages. Chapters are short and each ends in suspense, you have to keep reading to see what happens next. If you like action and suspense, this book is for you!

The Woman in Cabin 10 
by Ruth Ware
Lo Blacklock , a travel journalist, is given the plum assignment of reporting on the maiden voyage of the luxury cruise ship, the Aurora. At first, the trip is wonderful. The staff is very helpful and no expense is spared for the comfort of the passengers. Meeting and mingling with the hand selected group of passengers, could be Lo’s chance to move up the ladder of her career. However, part way into the cruise , Lo wakes to suspicious sounds coming from the next cabin of the woman that she has just briefly meet. When she investigates, she finds the cabin cleaned out and the woman has vanished. The staff insists that there was never anyone staying in that cabin. Did she imagine her, or is it a cover up? This book was a page turner. I would recommend it!

The Silent Patient 
by Alex Michaelides
This is a really good book. It has a surprising ending. Alicia kills her husband, she shoots him 5 times in the face. After that she does not speak. Theo, a psychotherapist works with her trying to get her to speak. Can he uncover the real story?

“America’s Reluctant Prince: the Life of John F. Kennedy Jr.”

By: Steven M. Gillon

Ranked as #8 on the New York Times bestseller list -Non-Fiction… this week, “America’s Reluctant Prince” underscores a problem in the genre of friends becoming biographers of their own subjects. On the one hand, the writer has access to his own memories and mutual friends. On the other, he is perhaps too close to his subject to dig deep. He functions more as a protector than as provocateur. Further, a great deal of attention is paid to the Kennedy ambivalence about photographs; they are conscientious about their faces and physiques yet simultaneously annoyed when followed by paparazzi. At the very least, a book about John Jr. (never “John-John”) should offer the reader great images. Sadly, the few in this volume are unremarkable and familiar; only one features him without a shirt. Without spoiling the final surprises this biographer has in store (one of them rhymes with “Kokaine”), there is a solid amount of shade thrown in the direction of Bessette-Kennedy, a woman who claimed she was not attracted to her husband. As everyone knows, the biography ends tragically. According to Gillon, if Kennedy had not recklessly piloted his single-engine plane after dark, in the fog, navigating without instrumentation, he, his wife and her sister might still be alive today, and we could have looked forward to Kennedy appearing on the cover of AARP’s magazine as the world’s sexiest senior.

Fowl Language: Welcome to Parenting
By: Brian Gordon

A fun, animated look at the trials and tribulations of parenting. Brian Gordon writes about some of the most mundane aspects of parenting. This book is a very humorous journey through raising a child from an infant to an adult. It includes the many pitfalls and obstacles we encounter as parents. I found this book to be very interesting and engaging.

Fowl Language: The Struggle Is Real

By: Brian Gordon

Another interesting and engaging read by Brian Gordon. He is at it again with his animated spoofs on the joy and pitfalls of parenting. He draws much of his material from his own personal experiences. Every page is chock full of humor. I am looking forward to more publications by this author.

Pudd’nhead Wilson
by Mark Twain
I’m attempting to read at least one classic during every summer reading period. I chose this book because I had fond memories of reading Tom Sawyer as a kid, but I can’t say I liked this one at all. This book is a tragedy masked as a comedy in which two children are switched as infants, one white and high born and one black, by their 1/16th black nanny. Since her son is only 1/32 black, he is extremely light skinned and appears white, however, he is still considered black and a slave by the law just as she is. After a theft at her “master’s” home, she switches the children because she fears her son will be sold down the river some day for something another slave has done. Her “master’s” wife is deceased and he has so little contact with his own son, that he doesn’t even realize what’s happened. The book then spends the next 100 plus pages talking about nothing that really has anything to do with the boys, until it finally comes back around to them in the end after the murder of the “false” boys Uncle. A strange man, dubbed Pudd’nhead by the community proves at trial that not only did the men he is representing not commit the crime, but he proves who actually did it using “fingerprint” evidence he had been collecting as a hobby for years. He also uncovers the swap of the two boys. The “false” heir is shown to be black and promptly sold down the river, and the boy who was the true heir but grew up thinking he was black, is now wealthy “white” member of society. However, he has no idea how to live in “white society”. He cannot read, write or speak like the “white” folks can and he doesn’t feel comfortable being outside the slave quarters. The book is a social commentary on the racial inequality that black slaves experienced by showing the attitude and demeanor of the two boys as they grow from infancy into men. It would’ve been a far more interesting story if the plot of the book was better. Twain is often difficult to read because of how he writes and this was made worse by the subject matter and the harsh language and behavior of the white characters towards black slaves.

Run Forever
By: Amby Burfoot

A must-read for the avid runner. A comprehensive guide for those wishing to run well into advanced stages of life. Explains how to get motivated to run and to stay motivated. Great advice on achieving sustainable results. Looking forward to another book from this author.

The Girl Next Door
by Brad Parks
Once again an enjoyable read with the main character an investigative newspaper reporter. Lots of action with his daily life including his cat Deadline and investigating a murder. I did guess who the murderer was before the end of the book which detracted from the story. All in all an enjoyable read.

Carbide Tipped Pens
by Ben Bova and Eric Choi
I’m not usually a fan of short-story anthologies, but when I saw this sci-fi collection edited by Ben Bova, and the dedication to Isaac Asimov, I thought I’d give it a try. Other than Ben Bova, I had never heard of any of the authors, so I was curious how they would create their “worlds” within this genre. The first story, “The Blue Afternoon That Lasted Forever,” had me hooked – a father/daughter end of the world piece that was both memorable and touching. The other stories were a mixed bag, but the sheer variety was impressive. The best stories had vivid imagery that will stay in my imagination for months to come: “The Circle,” about a 15th century “computer” made up of thousands of soldiers; “Skin Deep,” about medical tattoos that can prevent allergic reactions…unless something goes wrong; and “Siren of Titan,” about a robot on one of Saturn’s moons who discovers an innate love of beauty. I’ll admit to skimming through a few of the stories, but the gems within this anthology make it worthwhile.

Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding 
by Rhys Bowen
This is the 12th book in the Royal Spyness mystery series. It does help to read the series in order, however, it is not necessary as each book can stand on its own. The novel is set in 1930s England and Lady Georgina Rannoch has been given permission to relinquish her place as 35th in line to the British throne in order to marry Darcy O’Mara. Darcy is a Catholic and the son of an Irish Lord. Unfortunately for Georgie, although she and her intended have titles, they lack money. Darcy holds a mysterious position that requires him to travel all over the world on daring missions that he must keep secret from Georgie. As their wedding approaches, they are finding it nearly impossible to locate a suitable place to live based on their income. Luckily for them, Georgie unexpectedly receives a letter from one of her former stepfathers informing her that she is his heir and, as such, she is more than welcome to take over the running of his fully staffed country estate, Eynsleigh. He informs her that because he travels on various expeditions, he is rarely home and would only require a few rooms in one wing of the estate for when he visits. Georgie will now be Lady of her own manor! This all seems too good to be true and as the story progresses, that is proven to be the case. Upon her arrival at Eynsleigh, she is met by a small, inept and rather frightful staff. She soon realizes that something sinister is going on at the estate and she must get to the bottom of it! She enlists the help of her mother and grandfather (a retired policeman) and the ensuing adventure is quite entertaining.

Clam Wake
by Mary Daheim
The holidays are over and it is a slow time of the year for innkeeper Judith Flynn. Her husband is leaving on a fishing trip to New Zealand with the husband of her cousin Renie. Judith’so aunt and uncle who live in a nearby beach community ask her and her cousin to house sit for them for a few days while they visit a sick relative. The cousins need to vote on behalf of their aunt and uncle on a proposed ordinance that has the community at odds. Shortly after arriving at the beach house, they decide to take a walk on the beach and they discover the dead body of a local man. Of course, Judith and Renie feel compelled to do some sleuthing of their own while attempting to help solve the crime. This is just one installment in the very entertaining bed and breakfast mystery series. All books can easily be read independently of each other.

The Alice Network
by Kate Quinn
This book kept me engaged throughout its entirety. It focuses on the lives of two women during two different time periods. One woman was a spy in the “Alice” network during WW1. Her experiences and the atrocities she faced during her career are dealt with in detail. The other main character is a wealthy, young American, who finds herself pregnant, unmarried and confused. She travels to Europe with her mother to take care of her “problem”. However, this young woman (Charlie Sinclair) is determined to locate her cousin who disappeared during WW2. It is because of this quest that her life becomes interconnected with Eve Gardner, who served as a spy during WW1. Charlie believes Eve can help her locate her missing cousin. Eve struggles to live a normal life while she deals with the demons of her past. Alcohol has become her crutch. She is also very bitter and rough edged. The book shifts between two time periods. The first is 1915 and follows Eve’s work as a spy during WW1. The second is 1947 and follows both women as they partner to learn what they can about the fate of Charlie’s cousin. What occurs along the way creates an adventure that makes it difficult to put the book down. This novel provided not only historical fiction, but mystery, suspense and romance as well.

Heart of Barkness
by Spencer Quinn
For anyone not familiar with the Chet and Bernie mysteries, they are told from the viewpoint of Chet, who, being a dog, doesn’t always understand Bernie but knows that he’s the best human on the planet. This book begins when Bernie attends a performance by once-famous country singer Lotty Pilgrim. Chet and Bernie, partners in the Little Detective Agency, are drawn into the mystery of Lotty’s life and failure to profit from her career. We learn about the action and the progress of the case through Chet’s thoughts. Chet, however, is at all times a normal dog, and the author’s ability both to advance the mystery through Chet’s thoughts and to have those thoughts wander to distinctly dog concerns provides a nice element of humor to these mysteries.

A Pitying of Doves 
by Steve Burrows
This is the second book of the Birder Murder Mysteries series. The main detective, Inspector Domenic Jejeune, is much more taken with birds and birding than with solving crimes, even though he is very good at the latter. In this book, Jejeune, Canadian-born but relocated to Norfolk on the coast of England, is confronted with a mystery of why two people were killed during the theft of two Turtledoves. This bird is not uncommon in England, so wouldn’t be considered worth killing over. Jejeune suspects the birds were not so common, and he slowly weaves together several disparate threads into a solution to the crime. You don’t have to be a birder to enjoy these mysteries, just understand how someone can be haunted by a career path not taken. Be sure to read the information provided by the author at the end of the book about the real life counterparts to the two birds from a rare dove species.

Timefulness: how thinking like a geologist can help save the world
by Marcia Bjornerud
The author’s premise is that understanding the geologic processes and eras in the long history of the Earth can provide a view that no other science can. To that end she covers a wide range of material in this short book, including the carbon cycle of our planet and the major extinctions of life. She explains the role that carbon imbalances played in all the great extinctions, even that of the Jurassic when an asteroid that slammed into Earth played a major role. While some of the material is difficult, she understands that and advises readers, for instance, that that they can skip the part of the book dealing with carbon isotopes. She also has a knack for illustrating geologic concepts with easy-to-understand comparisons. The entire point is that timefulness can make it apparent that upsetting the carbon balance of our world will have catastrophic effects, and that we ignore this to our peril.

Breathe: the Simple Revolutionary 14 Day Program to Improve Your Mental and Physical Health
by Belisa Vranich
This book is an interesting and informative book about how breathing affects all aspects of your health. I decided to read it as it was recommended by one of the speakers at a program at the library. There is a pretest and post test for you to assess your current breathing and how it affects your health. The author provides you with exercises to correct your breathing pattern. You should practice the exercises she recommends for 14 days and then take the post test. I have tried the exercises and they are helpful.

A Matter of Chance 
by Julie Maloney
I read this book because the author is coming to our library in September. I didn’t know anything about the book until I started reading it. The author pulls you in with her easy to read style of writing. Even though the subject matter is frightening and upsetting to me it is so well told that I could not put the book down. She is an excellent storyteller and i look forward to meeting her and reading whatever she writes next.

26 Marathons

By: Meb Keflezighi

A very engaging read about the author’s journey as a runner. It gives a glimpse into the joys and obstacles of elite racing. The advice on training, overcoming injuries, and adversity is indispensable. His writing puts you on the racetrack with him, experiencing his struggles and his triumphs. It was difficult to put this book down. Just amazing.

The Call of the Wild
by Jack London
This book was written in 1903 and it takes place in Alaska in 1897. At first it was upsetting because a dog gets kidnapped from its home in California and taken to Alaska to work the Klondike gold fields. It was very interesting to hear how he dapted to life in the wild. It is well written and at times fast paced. there are several parts that are quite violent and upsetting but overall a very good allegorical book.

Off the Leash: A Dog’s Best Friend
By: Rupert Fawcett

Cartoons which chronicle a dog’s innermost thoughts. Truly engaging as well as entertaining. The humorous writing was also very thought-provoking. It has caused me to stop more often and to think: “What could my dogs be thinking right now?” A must-read for pet owners and those who enjoy cartoon humor.

The Baker Street Letters
by Michael Robentson
This mystery takes place in modern England and California. A law office occupies the block that includes the address of the fictitious Sherlock Holmes and to their surprise there is a clause in the lease requiring them to respond to any and all correspondence to Mr. Holmes. Twenty years ago an eight year old girl in California wrote to Sherlock Holmes for help in finding her father who disappeared. Her letter included copies of some of his papers from that time. Now someone is trying to retrieve those papers and one of the lawyers senses that something is wrong. From there on a story of deception, blackmail, and murder unfold. A good story. It kept me guessing as facts slowly become known. A few British expressions were head-scratchers.

Reconstructing Amelia
by Kimberly McCreight
Single mom Kate receives a phone call that no parent ever wants to get. Her daughter, Amelia, at first has been suspended from her exclusive Brooklyn school. Kate arrives on the scene to discover that Amelia has fallen from the building’s roof to her death. The school and police have concluded that it was a suicide. It is up to Kate to find out the real truth which leads her to uncover that she didn’t know very much about her daughter’s life including involvement in a secret society. I read this fast paced book in a few days. If you are a fan of 13 Reasons Why, you will like this novel.

We Should All be Feminists
by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
This book length essay is expanded from the author’s TEDx Talk of the same title. It draws heavily from her personal experiences in life. The word “feminist” is being used as an insult but should be a label like conservative or liberal. Women should be able to be themselves and not relate everything in their lives to men. A feminist helps support the ideal of individualism not characterize everyone as male or female. An interesting and thought provoking essay.

The First Conspiracy: The Secret Plot to Kill George Washington 
by Brad Meltzer & Josh Mensch
One a 5-star rating, I give this a 3. It might be fewer, except that the book does include much historical detail not consolidated anywhere else, and I found that detail interesting. The chapters bounce back and forth between the various threads, which is somewhat confusing at first. Most annoying is that they seem to be trying very hard to make it a thriller, with gratuitous statements trying to make it exciting. It would have been more integrous had they presented the various evidences and not tried so hard to turn it into a thriller, and link events that may not in fact have any linkage. I felt that they had a goal to hit on the number of pages written.

Joe Namath All the Way
by Joe Namath
Just finished Joe Namath new autobiography. As a long time New York football, Joe brought me back to to the early days of the American Football League. The story is written as the author is watching Super Bowl III. As we views the game he constantly goes back to his days as a high school and college playing days. Broadway Joe describes his good day as a star as well as his struggles with injuries as well as substance abuse.

Washington Black
by Esi Edugyan
George Washington Black is an eleven-year old field slave on a sugar plantation in Barbados in 1830. He has no parents and no prospects for a life of anything except endless labor and brutality. He is chosen by his owner’s brother as his manservant. Christopher Wilde is an eccentric man,a naturalist,an explorer,an inventor and a man who believes in the abolition of slavery. His life begins to change and Washington Black begins to hope for the possibility of a life with meaning and dignity. But,with the death of a man,everything changes and Christopher and Washington Black are forced to flee to save Washington’s life. Their escape takes them on an extraordinary journey that changes Washington Black’s life once again. This book was a fascinating look into slavery and the meaning of freedom.

Shadow Game
by Christine Feehan
Another interesting book sale read. Romance, action and paranormal story-line, which occasionally trips itself up in its own plot. I realized after the fact that this book is the first in a series which makes sense since many different peripheral characters are introduced that have little to do with this story, but will probably figure heavily into the other books. Reminds me a lot of Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooter series. This book follows an elite military squad who volunteered for a program that would “enhance” what the Doctor already considered physic abilities. The program works and the men are able to do incredible things, but someone wants to use this work to sell to terrorists for money, so they sabotage it to make it appear that men are dying as a result. The Doctor who created the experiment is killed right after having his own “gifted” daughter consult on the project. She quickly realizes things aren’t right and the rest of the book is spent with her trying to help men used in the experiment, find out who killed her father and fall in love and have lots of sex with one of the soldiers. It was a quick read and not horribly written, although character development would have been nice, rather then just each one “knowing” the other because they could read minds. I would try the next book in the series to see if it was any better.

You Will Know Me 
by Megan Abbott
Second book I’ve read from this author, didn’t love this one. Abbott’s books are well written and suspenseful, but I struggled to find something I liked about this book. Takes place in the world of cutthroat women’s gymnastics and chronicles the lives of one family (Knox) struggling to get their extremely gifted daughter to Olympic level competition, no matter the cost. The suspense comes when a member of the “close knit gymnastics community” is killed under suspicious circumstances. I use the term “close knit” loosely, as they all are backstabbers with very little redeeming qualities. It was obvious to me from the start who killed this person and I found it took way too long for the author to get to the reveal.

Lily White
by Susan Isaacs
This is the story about Lily (Lee) White, an attorney, who is representing a con man whose specialty is romancing lonely women and absconding with their life savings. The book alternates between Lee’s first person account of the case and a third person story about Lee’s life, beginning with her parents’ journey from Weissberg to Weiss to White, their social aspirations, and the implosion of Lee’s marriage to the son of Leonard White’s WASP hero. There are a number of surprising twists, and I really enjoyed the book. It seemed like there were gaps in Lee’s story between what the third person narrator revealed and Lee’s own observations, though, which left me wondering. In spite of that, it was a wonderful story of love, humanity, and family.

I Can See Clearly Now
by Dr. Peggy DeLong
Local author bares her sorrow in a book about love, loss and moving forward. In this memoir, the author shares two devastating losses and her reaction and recovery from both. While readers may process losses in various ways, the author provides options which are available to all. This book, while having sad moments, was much more uplifting and inspirational than I originally thought it might be. It is an easy read and I would recommend it for anyone dealing with grief, of any kind.

The Inquisitor’s Wife
by Jeanne Kalogridis
Marisol Garcia is the daughter of a “conversa”, a Jewish person who was coerced into converting to Christianity under the threat of death, and it is the beginning of the Spanish Inquisition. Shortly after her mother, who was born Jewish, drowns herself in the river rather than be subjected to torture, Marisol’s father marries her off to a neighbor who is a lawyer working for the Inquisition in exchange for a guarantee of her safety. This book follows the subsequent death of her father in the torture chambers, and her discovery that almost nothing in her life is as it seemed. She begins to learn the truth about her heritage and her new husband, as well as the fiancé who she thought had rejected her. This book had me staying up late to find out what happened next, but the ending felt a little rushed – almost as though the author had been given a limitation to finish the book within the next 100 pages or be sent to the dungeon. In spite of that, I really enjoyed it and am looking forward to reading more historical fiction by Jeanne Kalogridis.

Iron Lake 
by William Kent Krueger
I enjoyed the book as there was a lot of action and kept you guessing until the end. There is also the added feature that you learn some things about an American Indian Culture which I find interesting as I did Tony Hillerman books. I listened to this book and the reader is really good.

The Slave
by Anand Dilvar
I was hopeful that The Slave would be of the same caliber of The Shack, The Alchemist and The Secret as was promised. The messages in this book are very similar or the same as the three aforementioned books, although the story depicts the points in a very different way. I especially enjoyed Chapters 9 – 12. Here is where I think The Slave sets itself apart: the thought-provoking title which gains multiple meanings throughout the book and the very end of the book with its powerful questions. This book will make you think. For that reason, I believe it is worthwhile to take the reading journey of only 127 pages with The Slave.

Garbage Bag Suitcase
by Shenandoah Chefalo
This is a heartbreaking memoir written by a former foster child, now an advocate for at-risk children. It follows her childhood, moving from place to place with her neglectful and abusive parents until finally she decides that she would be better off without them in her life at all. Shenandoah becomes a foster child, and quickly learns that she is still on her own in the world. Overcoming many obstacles, she completes high school, graduates from college, and becomes a wife and mother. In spite of her upbringing, she is able to successfully navigate a career and family life and has become an advocate for realistic reform to the foster care system in the hopes that future generations of foster children will not have the experiences she did.

America for Beginners
by Leah Franqui
This is a thoroughly delightful audio book! Recently widowed Pival Sengupta of Kolkata, India, books a trip with the First Class India USA Destination Vacation Tour Company to visit the USA and find her beloved son Rahi, who is studying in California. When Rahi told his parents he was gay, his father disowned him and prohibited Pival from contacting him. The tour company pretends to be Indian-owned, but is really owned and operated by Bangladeshis. In addition, the widow wants a female companion, and the tour operator finds a young aspiring actress who is Jewish to accompany her. There are many cultural differences and outright funny moments as these three travelers make their way across the US. Along the way they all learn more about themselves and America than they expected.

The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir
by: Jennifer Ryan
Through a series of letters and journal entries, the reader learns about the lives and struggles of the women of a small village in England during WW2. Due to the lack of male chores members ,because of the war, the women decide to form the Chibury Ladies’ Choir. This is done over the objections of many as it is a radical idea for the time period. The story highlights five of the women as they adjust to the war conditions and find inner strength to cope and “carry on singing”.
I truly enjoyed this book.

by: Laura Hillenbrand
I highly recommending reading this is the biography of Louis Zamperini. Zamperini was a troubled youth who found his way through his abilities as a track start. As a high schools student he participated in the 1936 Olympics and though he did well did not finish in a medal position. As he continued his track career he continued to break records and was looking forward to participate in the 1940 Olympics; he was viewed as having a good shot at being the first person to break the four minute mile. Unfortunately, WWII got in the way of his Olympic ambitions and he was drafted in the army air corps as a bombardier. The book goes on to describe how his plane was shot down causing him and two other fliers from his plane had to survive floating n a raft for about 49 days on the open seas with limited supplies using only their ingenuity and resourcefulness to survive. After their ordeal on the raft they were “rescued” by the Japanese and sent off to various prisoner of war camps. The book details Zamperini’s and the other POWs horrible experiences at these camps and the abuses that they had to contend with. Finally, the book details his release from camp and the difficulties he had to overcome after his return from the war. This book was made into a major motion picture but the movie did not do justice to the story. Do yourself a favor and read the book!

Pine Barrons
by: John McPhee
This is a book that was written in the late 1960’s that gives a brief history of the Pine Barrens region of New Jersey. It is a short (<200 pages), well written book that describes the flora, fauna and the unique people who inhabit this region. As a resident of the most densely populated state in the nation it is hard to believe that such a unique area exists within our state. I’ve only visited the Pine Barrens once but since reading this book my wife and I are planning a field trip to the Wharton State Forrest in the near future to explore the area. My only complaint with the book is that it was written over 50 years ago; I’d like to read an updated version to see what, if anything, has changed.

The Runner
by: Christopher Reich
The Runner takes the reader back to early post war Germany. The lead character in the book his hoping to revenge his brother’s death at the hands of the SS. His foe in this pursuit is the runner, who escapes him through Germany. Written as fiction the story has more than enough historical figures to keep the reader interest. The author has written a thriller, but brings us back to reality in his description of suffering during and after WWII.

Wait, What?
by: James E. Ryan
This book is based upon a graduation speech about asking the right questions. The author tackles five particular questions, providing either personal examples or familiar references in support of the importance of the question. The book is uplifting and inspiring. In an era of information overload, the author provides a framework for asking specific questions; sparking curiosity and the need for attaining truths. While the target audience might be recent graduates, the five questions can be used as a roadmap at any point in one’s life.

Tell Me More
by: Kelly Corrigan
A compilation of stories and/or experiences which have helped to shape the way the author views her life as well as those around her. The reflections are both funny and heartfelt and include very personal details of the author. This book is a very easy read and one can relate to each story creating moments of inner reflection. What is truly important in your life? Checking your reactions/interactions, making necessary adjustments. Examine, reflect and move forward.

Paradise County
by: Karen Robards
A millionaire father is suspected of committing suicide and his oldest daughter, Alex is left to clean up the mess. The loss of family finances, devastation from the loss of her father, her fiancé splitting up with her and her younger sister running away from school, Alex has a bigger problem, a killer on the loose. This novel has it all, murder, mystery and romance. The book starts a little slow but picks up as you go along. It has a good mix of interesting characters, romance and mystery.

Plain Truth
by: Jodi Picoult
An engaging novel about the Amish, their plain style of life and philosophy collides with the English court system. It combines Day to Day imagery, some intrique with some romance and insights into how we are raised impacts our viewpoints. A twist at the end leaves you looking for a sequel. Well written

Mrs. Everything
by: Jennifer Weiner
I would highly recommend reading Mrs. Everything. Jennifer Weiner’s writing style is a delight and her insights are spot on. Ms. Weiner tells the story of two sisters, one who is straight and other gay, and the decisions and difficult choices that they and those around them make. Ms. Weiner takes the reader on an emotional rollercoaster ride of relationships between mothers and daughters, sisters, lovers, spouses, friends, and frenemies and explores how women’s roles and places in society have changed and not changed over several decades. I’m a Jennifer Weiner fan, and this one did not disappoint as it left me laughing and crying and unable to put this book down.

Autumn Light, Season of Fire and Farewells
by: Pico Iyer
Author Pico Iyer has split his time between California and Nara, Japan where he and his Japanese wife own a small home. When his father-in-law dies suddenly, calling him back to Japan earlier than expected, Iyer must deal with the universal questions all of us must face: how to soldier on with the things we love, despite the realization that they are dying. Iyer chronicles his father-in-laws death, his dying mother-in-law, who forgets that her husband has died, his absent brother-in-law who broke all ties with the family years ago and is a psychiatrist but to whom his wife Hiroko still writes letters. One does not read Iyer for his insight into people but more for his insight into life. He captures autumn in Japan perfectly and in a very Japanese way. He’s both poetic and pragmatic and his book says nothing and everything. The best part of the book are his very real interactions with the Dalai Lama. In this book, the Dalai Lama offers the world a fresh perspective, that is human, universal, not connected with religion. He advocates the propagation of basic kindness and understanding with nothing explicitly Buddhist or Tibetan involved. “Suffering is the central fact of life from his Buddhist viewpoint; it is what we do with it that defines our lives and our future” – Dalai Lama

The Rooster Bar
by: John Grisham
The story is about 3 friends who are in their last year of law school and are drowning in debt. They decide to not complete their last year of law school and instead try to get out of debt by practicing law illegally. At times the characters were not too believable. I used to love John Grisham books and was looking forward to reading this. To me this book was a disappointment and had me losing interest.

A Beautiful Corpse
by: Christi Daugherty
This is the second book featuring crime reporter Harper McClain. As with the first, this book did not disappoint. The main character is smart and refuses to give up. The author creates opportunities for the main character to outsmart the police. You end up rooting for her throughout. I’m looking forward to reading more stories abut Harper McClain.

The Sakura Obsession: The Incredible Story of the Plant Hunter Who Saved Japan’s Cherry Blossoms
by: Naoko Abe
Travel in Japan in April and revel in the glorious rainfall of cherry-tree blossoms in hues ranging from snowy white to pink blends and purple. Cherry trees of different varieties have been nurtured and cherished throughout the history of Japan. In fact, the cherry blossom is the official flower of Japan. In this incredible and riveting story, Japanese journalist, Naoko Abe has researched the evolution of this iconic plant along with its symbolic significance and explains how an English traveler in the beginning 1900s became captivated by the vast variety of cherry trees, mostly by the blossoms that he first experienced during his first trip to Japan. Collingham Ingram, a wealthy English noble, forsook his former passion for birds and immediately immersed himself in the study of plants and began one of the world’s most extensive and exquisite Japanese cherry stocks that he planted on his English estate doing most of the grafting and planting himself. Since the English climate is similar to that of Japan, he was able to import plants and develop cherry orchards and new varieties never before seen. Through his resourcefulness, he was able to singlehandedly revive and save the sakura or cherry blossoms, to Japan when their entire stock of indigenous trees had declined or was destroyed by World War II and by devastating disease. One of the most insightful parts is when the author was able to verify that the symbol of the cherry blossom was used to trick young Japanese Kamikaze pilots into suicide mission telling them that “a cherry blossom lives for only 10 days”, they must model their missions on the fact that a cherry blossom must die in glory for their country. As the Kamikaze pilots would take off from the airfield, young and beautiful teenage girls were waving them off with cherry blossoms.

Winter in Paradise
by: Elin Hilderbrand
This the first of a new series. Takes place on the Caribbean island of St. John. Irene Steele and her two adult sons receive a phone call that her husband has been killed in a helicopter crash off the island of St.John. Why on earth was he there? A local island woman was also killed with him. Who was she? When Irene, Chase and Baker arrive in St.John to claim her husbands body they discover his body has already been cremated by the authorization of his boss. They also learn that Russ owns a beautiful villa there, what the heck is going on?? Romance, intrigue and mystery. Can’t wait for the second book coming in October to learn more!

Think Twice
by: Lisa Scottoline
I have enjoyed Lisa Scottoline’s thrillers for the reasons I enjoyed this one, although it does stretch credulity. Bennie Rosato, head of an all-female Philadelphia law firm, is again the main character and other familiar characters and locations are familiar to Scottoline’s readers. We find out that Bennie has an identical twin, Alice, but they were separated at birth. Alice’s arrival is ominous indeed because she is the evil twin. With a few cosmetic changes and a new hairdo, Alice looks exactly like Bennie. She manages to hide Bennie with the idea she will die, and Alice assumes Bennie’s life, hoping to steal her wealth and, yes, her boyfriend, too! What ensues are scenes that are unexpected, humorous, suspenseful, and unbelievable, and the reader wants to know how Scottoline will sort this all out and arrive at her expected happy ending with all the evil elements inherent in the story. Does evil Alice get what she deserves or does she mend her ways and become Bennie’s good sister? You have to read Think Twice to find out!

Dear Mrs. Bird
by: AJ Pearce
This book takes place during WW II in England. Emmeline is living in London with her best friend Bunty and are living thru the War helping out at the fire station – doing their duty to help fight the war. Emmeline wants to become a war coorespondent but ends up getting a job at a woman’s magazine typing up responses to women’s letters and are posted in their magazine. The column is to help women – alot like Dear Abby but Emmeline finds she wants to help people get thru their issues while her boss – Mrs Bird is strictly selective on the type of letters to respond. Emmeline grapples with following her heart or follow the rules which gets her into a pickle. Emmeline finds the war affects her as well as her fiance who is off at war breaks up with her and marries a nurse and her friends experience tragedy. The story shows how Emmeline manages her problems with following her heart and tries to mend broken relationships all thru a very tumultuous time. I enjoyed this book and would recommend it as a read for anyone.

Cottage by the Sea
by: Debbie Macomber
Debbie Macomber’s Cottage by the Sea was a great summer read. I did not want to stop listening to the audio book. There were parts where I was laughing, then crying. Macomber takes you on Annie’s life journey from losing everything to finding her new Happy place. Annie goes from having no one to building a new family.

The Best of Us
by: Robyn Carr
Robyn Carr’s The Best of Us is a book in her Sullivan Crossing Series. She takes us through Leigh Culver time in Sullivan’s Crossing. Leigh is the new local doctor in town. We read about her getting to know the town and the relationships she has built. Her Aunt Helen comes to live with her and we are taken down a second story line. Carr keeps you on your toes throughout the book. Great summer read.

The Last House Guest
by: Megan Miranda
Great summer read! Take this book to the beach! An excellent mystery with plenty of twists. From the cover “Littleport, Maine, has always felt like two separate towns: an ideal vacation enclave for the wealthy, whose summer homes line the coastline, and a simple harbor community for the year-round residents whose livelihoods rely on service to the visitors. Typical, fierce friendships never develop between a local and a summer girl—but that’s just what happens with visitor Sadie Loman and Littleport resident Avery Greer. Each summer for almost a decade, the girls are inseparable—until Sadie is found dead.” I really enjoyed this book and highly recommend it!

by: Anna Quindlen
One night, a mysterious baby is dropped off at the garage of the Blessings Estate. Skip Cuddy, the caretaker, finds the baby girl and decides to take care of her. Lydia Blessing, an older woman who owns the estate, discovers the baby in her garage and finds herself wanting to help Skip take care of her. Overtime Lydia reflects on her past old memories. Through this process she becomes reconnected with her family and her home. This is a sweet story of love, redemption, and family that anyone will enjoy this summer.

Bryant and May and the Bleeding Heart
by: Christopher Fowler
The mystery presented in this novel is harrowing and tear jerking. Bryant and May are the modern day Sherlock Holmes and Watson except for them, no explanation may seem too superfluous. It starts out with a boy and his date going to a grave yard and finding a mummy! That is just the start as the detectives later have to solve other mysteries including missing ravens in the Tower of London, and a few murders along the way. What are their connections? From underground societies in London to the Tower of London itself, you are sure to go on a ride!

The Maze Runner
by: James Dashner
This book is part of a five part series by James Dashner. It is a dystopian novel filled with twists and turns that will have your stomach churn. It is about a boy who finds himself in a place called the Glade. He has no memory of who he is and is surrounded by other boys in the same predicament. These boys have no recollection of their past lives and or how they got into the Maze. The Glade is surrounded by the Maze, which is filled with nasty creatures called Greivers that have a lethal sting unless the victim is given an antidote. The boys are trapped in the Glade by the Maze and must find a way out–they have been for at least the past 2 years. Everything changes when a girl comes into the scene and disrupts the flow of things. This book is very engaging all the way until the end. The adventure in the story and the supporting cast is great, however, the main character seems a little one dimensional, and very similar to other main protagonists of the same genre. Either way, this is a really good read and I recommend reading it.

by: Anna Quindlen
Any grandmother would enjoy this book. She paints the perfect picture for new grandparents. As we know our roles as grandmothers have changed. Quindlen makes this book fun to read. Her own experiences will sound very familiar.

Commander in Cheat
by: Rick Reilly
No matter your politics this is a funny book. The premise of the book is that you can understand Donald Trump by the way he plays golf. The stories behind his golf courses are very interesting. It certainly reveals what goes on in the clubhouse.

Lessons from Lucy
by: Dave Barry
If you like dogs this is a sweet book to read.The author ,Dave Barry, is a writer with a great sense of humor. In this book he uses lessons he’s learned from his dog Lucy that would help humans improve their own lives, It is a quick read and funny too.

by: Nicole Dennis-Benn
Patsy is the story of a young mother who longs to leave the impoverished Jamaican town where she grew up. She hopes to reconnect with her childhood friend,living in New York and offering the promise of a new life and the possibility of a rekindling of their young love. Her plans for a new life do not include her young daughter,Tru. She leaves her behind,hoping for a new start where she can be,and love,whomever she wants.But,her life as an undocumented immigrant is not what she imagined,working low-paying jobs and struggling to get by. Meanwhile,back in Jamaica ,Tru is living with her father and his family and trying to understand why she has been abandoned. This story spans a decade and the changes that both Patsy and Tru undergo.

Small Fry
by: Lisa Brennan Jobs
For me, this was a sad book. For all of his brilliance, Steve Jobs sure was a bad father. This poor girl did nothing to deserve how poorly she was treated and it is heartbreaking to see that someone could accomplish so much but have such poor personal skills. I have to give it to her for being so candid sharing her personal details. It is amazing that she was able to become a fully functional and independent adult despite how her father treated her.

Our Man: Richard Holbrooke and The End of the American Century
by: Richard Packer
This highly recommends George Packer’s gripping autobiography of Richard Holbrooke. At first, I passed by the book several times having already read Bob Woodwards’ recent book on the same man. The author in this case had incredible access to all of Richard’s diaries and to the diaries of those with whom he worked over his forty year plus diplomatic career. Beginning with his first diplomatic job in Vietnam to his pivotal assignment, the Dayton accords, the reader is intimately drawn into the complexities and nuances of negotiating an end to war. The key difference here is that the reader learns from all of the many positions of war makers. The importance of listening to all sides no matter how heinous such as the war criminal Milosevic and how to bring all sides together to begin the healing process of reconciliation. Richard Holbrooke personified the postwar American impulse to pursue a leadership position on the global stage. The reader is given a non-fiction narrative that is both incredibly intimate and epic in its revelatory portrait of this deeply intellectual yet highly flawed man and the elite society and government he inhabited. After his penultimate success with the Dayton accords, he was appointed as the American Ambassador to the United Nations where he did much good. After Obama’s election, he was appointed on Hillary Clinton’s team at the State Department. He initiated the first diplomatic engagement with Iran. He was also assigned to Afghanistan and began the outreach to negotiating with the Taliban. While the book has his tragic death as its endpoint, the incredible insight one gains into the importance of Foreign Affairs and the importance of diplomacy is not to be missed.

The Broken Road
by: Richard Paul Evans
THE BROKEN ROAD is the 1st book in a series called THE BROKEN ROAD TRILOGY by Richard Paul Evans. THE BROKEN ROAD is the story of a young boy who lives with his family in poverty, deceit, and twisted values. As he grows up, the boy decides that he’ll never live that way again and sets out to make his mark in the business world. As he discovers love and success, he also discovers the tragedy of constantly wanting more and more. A freak accident changes his world for good. He is left trying to decide what his future will hold. An excellent, thought-provoking beginning of his journey into self-examination and discovery.

Walking on Water
by: Richard Paul Evans
WALKING ON WATER is the 5th book of THE WALK SERIES by Richard Paul Evans. THE WALK SERIES is about a young man who makes a fortune early in his life, marries his childhood sweetheart, and then loses his beloved wife to a freak accident. During his wife’s last months, his business partner swindles him out of his entire half of their business and leaves him penniless. Having lost the most important parts of his life, he sets out to walk across America from Washington State to the Florida Keys in an effort to “find himself” and a reason to keep living. During his journey he meets new people, learns about his long-forgotten family, and, eventually, rediscovers himself through his travels and encounters with new ideas, truths, values, and a heightened sense of what is truly important in life. All of these books were wonderful, and I eagerly looked forward to each new “chapter” of hope, self-discovery, and rebuilding life after tragedy.

The Accidental Time Machine
by: Joe Haldeman
A thoroughly enjoyable sci-fi novel, with plenty of little twists and turns and what-ifs. The physics was just within my realm of understanding, and willing suspension of disbelief came easily. Even the love interest worked well (including an imaginative zero-g chapter). It could have used a bit more descriptions of the characters, especially Martha. In addition, the ending was satisfying but a bit too “let’s tie everything up quickly.” A good summer read!

Mrs. Everything
by: Jennifer Weiner
This is the story of two sisters spanning from the early 50s to the present. We are presented with Jo who is a complete tomboy and loves sports (and as it turns out women) and her sister Bethy who is a lovely girly girl. The girls grow up and are coming of age in the 60’s so there is a lot of protesting, drug and sexual experimentation. The book talks of the limited choices women had as late as the 60’s as far as who they could love (one sister loves a women, the other loves an black man) and their overall role in society. This is a touching story spanning decades that will have you laughing and crying.

The Magus
by: John Fowles
John Fowles has an incredible writing style that makes his books nearly impossible to put down. During the first few hundred pages of this novel, I was sure it was the best book I had ever read. Full of twists and turns, magic and fantasy – I was enthralled. But then the twists kept coming. Again and again. And then the ending fell flat. This book had so much potential, but took an unfortunate turn and is about 300 pages too long. In short: read The Collector instead.

Slaughterhouse Five
by: Kurt Vonnegut
As you’d expect from such a renowned novel, this story was humorous and captivating. Alien abductions and time travel coincided seamlessly with an account of the bombing of Dresden during the Second World War. I learned, I laughed, I was horrified. Among the many interesting things in this book is the insight into Vonnegut’s own war experience. It’s a very quick read, and I know that the plight of Billy Pilgrim will stick with me for a while. So it goes.

The Road to Grace
by: Richard Paul Evans
The final book in a series by well-known author, Evans. This is a quick read, but a completion to the full series that has the character walking around the U.S. The main character is compelled to walk around the nation to Key West from Seattle due to a family tragedy. He meets a wide variety of people and faces disturbing events that test his soul. A good read for fans of Evans.

Make Your Bed
by: Admiral William H. McRaven
This book is a recounting of the experiences the author has had and how various tenets have helped to shape his career and life. The lessons he shares can be utilized by anyone. They are especially inspiring to young adults and recent graduates. The title itself symbolizes one core tenet, complete one task, early in the day, and the satisfaction will carry you through to accomplish your to-do list. The book is an easy read and would make a perfect gift for anyone who needs some uplifting words of wisdom.

Summer of 69
by: Elin Hilderbrand
The story is about an extended family during the summer of 1969 in Nantucket. Different family members find themselves dealing with different events and issues that occurred during that time. This included racial bigotry, women’s rights, the Viet Nam war, Ted Kennedy and Chappaquiddick, and the moon launch. I generally enjoy Hilderbrand’s books and this was no exception. The story was a good read and her writing made me feel like I was on beautiful Nantucket during a very tumultuous time in our recent history.

by: Laura Hillenbrand
This is a very good telling of the world War II experiences of Louie Zamperini, along with his flying buddies. Mostly if focuses on Louie, as he was an Olympic-caliber runner just before going to war. The first part of the book provides much historical and factual background, but isn’t gripping. Once the crew of The Green Hornet bomber crashes into the ocean, it gets gripping. The details of how the 3 survivors managed to accomplish seemingly impossible tasks to survive (patching their raft without all the right equipment; catching a small shark for food) is amazing. The book also provides insight to the horrific treatment of POWs in Japan, along with the ‘Rape of Nanking’, China, which I am pretty sure most anyone currently alive is unaware of. This kind of history book should be on the reading list for high-school students to learn what happened. I’d recommend this to everyone.

Something In The Water
by: Catherine Steadman
If you are looking for a book that keeps you in suspense and you can’t put it down, this is the one. A young couple embarks on their honeymoon, with plans for the future, even though, the husband has just lost his job. They go scuba diving, and that is when the mystery unfolds. They find something in the water, which leads to one event after another. As they both become embroiled in a possibly dangerous involvement, the reader tries to figure out the circumstances behind the opening chapter.

The Spies of Shilling Lane
by: Jennifer Ryan
This is very cozy book about life in England during ww2. The main character is Mrs. Braithwaite who has been ostracized from her village for being newly divorced and for being unpleasant and bossy. She decides to leave for London to find the one person she has left, her daughter Betty. When she arrives at Betty’s , she finds out that Betty has been missing for several days. Together with the timid landlord, Mr. Norris, the pair set out to locate Betty. This book deals with the discovery of not only the mystery of Betty’s whereabouts , but of what makes a person happy and successful. The ending was little predictable, but I enjoyed it for the most part.

Sunset Beach
by: Mary Kay Andrews
This is a fun summer read. Following an accident and then the death of her mother Drue Campbell decides to make a go towards a new life. She has inherited a cottage where she spent her childhood summers and accepts a job from her estranged father who recently married one of her ex childhood friends. Though her job is a screener at her dad’s personal injury law firm, Drue takes it upon herself to do some investigating. A lot of her investigating takes on a Stephanie Plum like sleuthing style that had me laughing out loud. Quick, fun and enjoyable read.

The Deep Blue Sea for Beginners
by: Luanne Rice
A story of a mother leaving her family to live on Isle of Capri. The daughters are young and devastated that their mother left them. They miss their mother. As teenagers they search for her and find their mothers love that they needed. The book incorporates several themes such as forgiveness, hope, love and reconciliation. I found the book a little show at times.

Edge of Winter
by: Luanne Rice
The Edge of Winter introduces us to several characters. Neve, her daughter, Mickey; Ranger Tim, his father, Joe; and Shane. All the characters share a love of birding. The story had two themes going on. First a mother and daughter trying to get over a broken marriage and a man who lost his son in the war and his estrangement from his father. The characters join forces to work together for a common cause. The book was predictable but an easy beach read.

To Trust a Stranger
by: Karen Robards
The book is about an attractive woman suspecting her husband of having an affair. She hires a private detective to investigate. The two form a personal relationship and secrets are revealed along the way. The book has some mystery in it but based on more romance. It is a very easy read. The ending was suspenseful and kept you wanting to find out what happens.

Where the Crawdads Sing
by: Delia Owens
An excellent read, beautifully composed and expressed. A tribute to taking care of the natural world and really listening and watching nature at work, combined with intrigue, harsh life lessons, friendships and love. The difficulties in growing up and how they shape our lives and events is skillfully woven into a touching story. This story reinforces what reaching out and helping someone can do. The power of good.

Writer to Writer
by: Gail Carson Levine
An entertaining “how to” book – really more of a reference/workbook than anything else. Dare I say that it’s targeted far more for women than men? I did not finish it, mostly because the writing prompts were too numerous. This is one that I may buy at some point when I need the inspiration. Recommended for writers who are stuck or having problems with their novels.

Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss
by: Rajeev Balasubramanyam
This was the free book I chose when I joined the Summer Book Club and it was a delightful read! Professor Chandra is an internationally renowned economist,being considered for the Nobel Prize. He is also divorced and estranged from two of his three children. After the Nobel Prize is awarded to someone else ,Chandra begins to reevaluate his life and his relationships. With advise from his doctor and his ex-wife’s husband,he sets out to find his bliss. This was a quick read and a book I would definitely reccomend.

House on Fire
by: Bonnie Kistler
Could you forgive the person that killed your daughter? What if that person was your son? Story about a blended family and a terrible accident that changes their dynamic.

Behind the Wheel: Poems About Driving
by Janet S. Wong
I read through this collection of poems about driving a few times and have discovered several favorites including “Ask a Friend”, “Behind the Wheel”, “Grandmother’s Car”, “Need to Read”, “OOXXOXO”, “Prisoner”, and “Restraint”. “Grandmother’s Car” was really sweet and “OOXXOXO” was a lot of fun to read, but “Restraint” is possibly my favorite. It talks about a poet teaching students to write poetry and I adore the lines about people turning into trees, owls, slugs, and even a hurricane — and then someone uses seatbelts as a metaphor for his parents. Although it’s difficult to read, I think Janet S. Wong’s poem “OK” is especially important as it deals with the very real and dreadful dangers of drunk driving, which could also be applied to distracted driving. While the poems are geared towards young adults, I believe many of them would be relatable for any driver.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz
by: Heather Morris
Painful, yet beautiful story of love and survival in the most awful circumstances. The book follows the story of Lale, a very smart, resourceful young man that upon arriving the concentration camp and being tattooed with a prisoner number is “saved” to become the tattooist himself. Lale falls in love with Gita, another young prisoner in the woman’s section of the concentration camp. He strives to protect his beloved at all costs while also trying to help others in the camp and stay alive. We see from Lale’s point of view the atrocities behind the Auschwitz concentration camp. He finds himself being considered one of the “lucky” prisoners who reports and works alongside Nazi officer’s every day as the tattooist. The story is a work of fiction based on true events from interviews compiled by the author, Heather Morris, with Lale as one of the survivors of this horrific time in the history of the human race.

Where the Crawdads Sing
by: Delia Owens
Very good book. Gives you an insight into Marsh life. Kya is left on her own at the age of 6. She does a very good job of making a life for herself. She ends up being very successful.

Vacuum In The Dark
by Jen Beagin
I really enjoyed this very quirky book. Any book that starts off by the main character, Mona, washing her hands with poop because it looks like fancy soap you know is going to be interesting. Mona is a 26 year old who cleans houses for a living. She is also an artist who likes to take self portraits of herself in her clients houses and clothes. A very interesting concept. All her clients are very interesting too. The writing style is very descriptive and keeps your interest. This is also a story of someone trying to find out who they are. I highly recommend this book.

Season of Wonder
by RaeAnne Thayne
An effortless summer read, especially for a long flight! Sweet story of overcoming obstacles and forging a new way of thinking. The author provides characters with personalities which are relatable and a setting which sounds ideal. Romance is woven into the story, but the underlying message is one of allowing yourself to believe in the goodness of others.

I Owe You One
by Sophie Kinsella
You can always count on Sophie Kinsella for a light, enjoyable story and this does not disappoint. A chance encounter in a coffee shop which results in an IOU, is the basis for the story of Fixie Farr. Aptly named because she cannot resist trying to fix everything and everyone, she just can’t help herself. She is trying to save the family business singlehanded while re igniting an old romance. But nothing goes as planned . A great beach read.

The Murder Book
by Lisa Marie Redmond
“Detective Lauren Riley, a cold case detective in Buffalo NY , is brutally attacked while alone at her desk after hours. When she retains consciousness , she is sure her attacker was a police officer. The only thing missing is the Murder book, a compilation of all the facts for her cold cases. The only one she can truly trust is her partner Shane Reese. Together they must work backwards to discover the motive for the attack . There are a lot of references to a previous book which I would recommend reading first.

The Stone Circle
by Ella Griffiths
This is the latest in the Ruth Galloway series and it’s a good one. Two bodies are discovered in an ancient grave. One is centuries old and the other a local girl who disappeared 30 years ago. Ruth is the archeologist working on the dig when the bodies are found. DCI Nelson, Ruth’s sometimes lover and father of her child, is in charge of the case and there is the usual tension between the two. The story does refer back to a previous case in The Crossing Place, so you might want to read that first.

Below the Fold
by R. G. Belsky
Two woman are murdered in Manhattan, seemingly unrelated. One is homeless and the other living extravagantly in a luxurious high rise. A list of names is found at the scene of the second murder which includes the homeless woman. Clare Carlson is the news director ant Channel 10 and she cannot let go of the thought that solving the mystery of the list will solve the murder. The story is well written with insights into the world of fast breaking news.

The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna
by Juliet Graemes
This book follows the journey of Stella Fortuna (the second one) from her remote Italian village to America. Told from the perspective of her granddaughter as Stella is about to turn 100, this saga covers the story of the marriage of Stella’s parents, Assunta and Antonio, the births, lives, deaths (and near-deaths) of their family, and most of all, the decades-long feud between Stella and her sister Tina. It is hard to imagine the difficulties Stella, a very independent woman, faced as part of a traditional Italian family newly immigrated to Connecticut just as World War II was beginning. Her story is both heartbreaking and inspiring, and kept me up way too late at night reading. Juliet Graemes truly brought these fictional characters to life to the point where I could almost taste the meatballs that Tina’s great-niece is clearly rolling incorrectly as Aunt Tina fills her in on the family history.

Something in the Water
by Catherine Steadman
I downloaded this book on my phone from cloud library and was able to listen to it while driving and walking. This is a real page turner. A young English couple are on their honeymoon in a luxurious resort on Bora Bora when they make a discovery which will put enormous pressure on their relationship. This is a great psychological thriller with plenty of twists and turns to have you guessing. It was read by the author .

Machines Like Me
by Ian McEwan
Set in an alternate 1982 London, where “historical” events are just different enough that technology has just introduced the first synthetic humans. Charlie uses his inheritance to purchase an “Adam”, which he sets about programming with the help of his upstairs neighbor (and before long, girlfriend) Miranda. This is a fascinating tale of what it means to be human. Adam can think, he can love, he has feelings – is he human? Are his logical decisions better than Charlie’s emotional reactions? What makes a course of action ethical? Is the truth always the best choice? This book had me thinking about a lot of these questions and more, and I actually read it twice just so I could enjoy pondering the meaning of life.

Finding Dorothy
by Elizabeth Letts
I really enjoyed this historical fiction about the making of the movie “The Wizard of Oz” from the perspective of Maud Baum, widow of the author L. Frank Baum. Elizabeth Letts clearly did her research, and made me wonder about what else from our country’s history I have missed. Maud Baum’s mother was a noted suffragette and colleague of Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Raised in such a progressive household, Maud met her perfect match in Frank Baum, who was considered eccentric by his friends and family but truly considered Maud to be his partner in life – very unusual for the time. I was drawn in from the first page, where young tomboy Maud is chased home and tears her petticoats climbing her scary neighbor’s fence, throughout her lifetime and the challenges of having such a formidable mother, her relationship with Frank, and her influence on Judy Garland and the production of the movie. This book made me love my favorite movie even more!

Knight in Shining Armor
by Jude Devereaux
One can see why this 1980s book was a bestseller. A fairy tale filled with time travel, romance and humor. The clash between the 1980s and the 1600s developed the strong, yet sentimental, characters. Descriptions added flavor but did not bog down the action. You really rooted for the characters, especially the heroine Dougless, a young woman trying to change history for the man she loves. And it doesn’t hurt that she is an American who has been left in England by her “boyfriend” and his bratty daughter.
I thanked the friend who recommended this book. It’s the perfect chick book to read at the beach or in front of a cozy fire.

by Naomi Booth
This book presents like an Australian Robin Cook novel, a medical thriller. The main character, a pregnant woman mourning the loss of her mother, is not particularly likeable, as she is negative and in constant fear of the mysterious medical condition showing up around her. It is not until the end of the book that she becomes a model of strength a and loving protector.
The dramatic moments in the book were gripping. The language was colorful.
Readers will soon be looking around to make sure the devastating disease has not found its way to their town!

The Good Lie
by Tom Rosenstiel
Just finished “The Good Lie” a story of intrigue in Washington DC. The author takes us into the back room of Congress. The main characters are partners in an investigative firm and are asked by the White House for assistance. The author a Senior fellow at a DC think tank bring into the inner workings of our government. This is definitely an author that I would read again.

I Know Who You Are
by Alice Feeney
Wow, a real surprise ending to this stressful story of abduction, murder.love and deceit. The main character is a woman who is kidnapped by another woman to replace a lost child. The story goes back and forth between present time and the past. I have never read (listened) to this author before and I am going to see if she has written more.

All My Colors
by David Quantick
An engaging tale of magical realism but in a very dark way. Todd is an aspiring writer who stumbles on what he believes to be the holy grail in publishing. The book is a page turner from the start as we follow the main character down the dark path of his destiny. What starts out as a whimsical read soon turns into a horror story of sorts but the end does leave the reader with a very important moral. I definitely recommend this book!

Nicole Dennis-Benn
This is a story of a Jamaican immigrant searching for her life. Patsy leaves her daughter behind and travels to New York where she believes her true love waits for her. Once in New York she encounters many obstacles and disappointments: finding a job is difficult and her soul mate has moved on without her. The main character comes across as selfish and ignorant and it is hard to have empathy for her. I did see the story as an accurate portrayal of the immigrant experience but I wished for something more between the pages. The biggest disappointment of the book for me was that it did nothing to dispel immigrant stereotypes and that is why it fell short for me.

The Heart Goes Last
by Margaret Atwood
Husband and wife lose their jobs, and their home. They are living in their car. They enter a program where they can live at a prison, and in a house alternate months. Very strange book. The book will keep your attention, just to see what happens.

Before we were yours
by Lisa Wingate
A family with 5 children live on a boat.The oldest child is 12. Their father takes the mother to the hospital to have another baby. The parents never return. The children end up in an orphanage. Very good book

The Poet X
by Elizabeth Acevedo
This novel in verse was written by poet, author and National Poetry Slam winner, Elizabeth Acevedo. It details the life of a young teen who is drawn to the power of words and poetry, and discovers that writing and sharing her poetry not only gives her joy, but offers her an immense sense of release and expression. The narrator powerfully shares her feelings about her strict, religious parents, the emotional abuse and taunting she experiences as she develops from a young girl to a grown women, and her critical relationship with her brother, who is experiencing his own pressures as he comes of age. A powerful novel in verse that should not only be read, but TREAT YOURSELF, listen to this audio book as well.

No Other Man
by Shannon Drake
My second historical romance novel of the summer. This one was much better written then the first one I read and Shannon Drake/Heather Graham does a reasonably good job with a somewhat unbelievable plot. A woman (Skylar) running from danger meets a dying man who wants to help her. She marries him by legal proxy, but unwittingly finds out later that it was to the man’s son. Skylar, now believing she is widowed, travels towards her deceased husband’s estate and meets a half-breed Indian named Hawk, who turns out to be her new husband. Afraid of what could happen if she returns to her home in the East, she agrees to be his wife and “perform” her wifely duties, but with the stipulation that she will never love him. Predictably, she soon falls in love with him despite herself, even the Sioux part of his life. For his part, Hawk struggles with his feelings towards her because she is too secretive and he believes she had something to do with his fathers death. Most of the problems in the book come from the lack of communication between the two of them and I can’t understand why Drake stretches Skylar’s “secrets” so far into the narrative. Obviously, there new life together is not easy because of this, and during their travels together she is repeatedly and mysteriously (to Hawk) attacked because of the information she is hiding. I did like the book and will read the two sequels eventually, but I’m not in a huge hurry. Quick read.

The Price of Innocence
by Susan Sizemore
My first book by this author and also my first historical romance novel. It was okay for what it was, not that well written, and tons of typos/errors in the book. It follows the lives of two people who met when they were young under unusual circumstances and had a torrid love affair. Years later they meet by chance and are thrown together once again, trying to fight the mutual love and attraction that they still feel for one another. The plot left a lot to be desired and it was very predictable, but it was certainly a quick read. I would try something by this author again and hope that it was more interesting.

This Fallen Prey
by Kelley Armstrong
The Rockton novels are my favorites. This author never disappoints. I had a hard time putting it down. I couldn’t wait to continue reading to try and figure out who did it with so many suspects. As always, the twist at the end was unexpected. This book ends with a cliffhanger and I cannot wait to read the latest one.

The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb
by Melanie Benjamin
This was a historical fiction book about Mrs. Tom Thumb aka Mercy Lavinia “Vinnie” Warren Bump. She was a “little person” who ended up in PT Barnum’s Circus and becoming great friends with him. In fact he was probably her soul mate but he was married and of normal size. Of course reading a book like this you don’t know exactly what is true. The author says Vinnie did not leave behind much detail about her life in her writings so a lot is speculation. It was an interesting story, but at times I didn’t like Vinnie very much. It was interesting to note that if Vinnie had been born now she would have been given growth hormone drugs since she was born a normal size baby. I would recommend this book.

Bertie, The Complete Prince of Wales Mysteries
by Peter Lovesey
Three mysteries under one cover! All three stories are told in the first person, namely by “Bertie” the Prince of Wales. All take place in the late 1800’s.
Bertie loves to play detective and hopefully come up with “who did it” before the authorities. The first story “Bertie and the Tin Man” remind me of Sherlock and Holmes. The second, “Bertie and the Seven Bodies” is very similar to Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Indians. The last story “Bertie and the Crime of Passion” pulls in Sarah Bernhardt as his sidekick! All three have humorous escapades by Bertie! I could not figure out who did it!

Borrowed Time
by Tracy Clark
This is a mystery about the apparent suicide of a dying man. A female Private Eye with an attitude is asked to make sure it was a suicide not murder.The story has some interesting twists and characters, but is fast paced. Some clever dialog with her cop and ex-con friends. It was an enjoyable read.

A Thousand Splendid Suns
by Khaled Hosseini
Written by the author of The Kite Runner, this novel covers the lives of two women over 30 years. Set primarily in Kabul, Afghanistan, there is peace, then political upheaval, and then civil war. It covers the changing definition of women’s lives and rights, from the progressive 70’s , to the increasingly repressive decades after Sharia law was imposed. This was a re-read for me, and I enjoyed it again just as much, although the descriptions of the kinds of degradation women endured can be intense. In the end, the power of love prevails, but not without many losses along the way.

The Swarm
By: Orson Scott Card

After the first Formic War which involved an invasion from space, Earth is trying to prepare for the second one. They know that it’s coming, but the details are unknown. The aliens are very unusual in their techniques and strategies. They seem to be guided by a hive queen, who can communicate telepathically. Trying to figure out their methods and defeat them, could prove to be extremely difficult. The problems and results of the second Formic War continues in the sequel, The Hive.

The Oracle
By: Clive Cussler

Sam and Remi Fargo are involved in another adventure, as they continue their quest for treasure and archaeological finds. In the meantime, they are trying to start a school for disadvantaged girls. One problem after another hampers their efforts. Kidnapping, theft, and violence all play a part, as the characters try to enrich the lives of the students. Bravery and determination win out, and a surprise outcome at the end helps in their quest.

The Cemetery Keeper’s Wife
By: Maryanne McFadden

This book is a historical fiction that takes place in Hackettstown, NJ. Rachel is newly married to Adam, who comes from a long line of cemetery keepers at Union Cemetery. Rachel becomes intrigued by the monument I the cemetery for a girl named Tillie who was raped and murdered in 1886. Rachel is drawn into finding out more about Tillie and who really murdered her. As Rachel is looking for information about Tillie, she’s recollecting her own traumatic life and finding similarities with Tillie and herself. I really enjoyed this book and I loved the references for the many places in Hackettstown including Centenary College.

Sweet Salt Air

By: Barbara Delinksy

Barbara Delinsky’s novel, set primarily on an island off the coast of Maine, and focused on the evolution of the friendship of two women, made it an excellent summer read for me. Once best friends, Nicole (a food blogger) and Charlotte (a travel writer) have have not seen one another for many years. The reader soon learns that Charlotte holds a secret that she must keep from Nicole and she has planned the distance and years between them to avoid the truth. However, when Nicole is contracted to write a book about local food, she decides it is the perfect time to reconnect with Charlotte, who has the talent and experience to help her with the book. Charlotte ultimately agrees, hoping that the rekindling of their friendship will result in strengthening their bond, not destroying it. What follows are opportunities for a joyful reunion in beautiful settings, fruitful work on the book, new friendships, romance, and an underlying tension and fear that the truth will inevitably emerge and has the potential to destroy both of their lives.

Her One Mistake
By: Heidi Perks

Suspenseful. A mother’s worst nightmare: her child has gone missing, after being left in the care of a friend.

Southern Lady Code: Essays
By: Helen Ellis
Read this one in an hour! Multiple short essays on various topics seen through the “lens of the Southern Lady Code.” The Code is saying something nit nice in a nice way. Amusing.

Class Mom
By: Laurie Gelman

Quick, light and funny read. For anyone who has ever been a volunteer, especially a classroom mom, you might recognize yourself and others in this narrative.

My Lovely Wife
By: Samantha Downing

For those who are fans of psychological thrillers along the lines of Gone Girl, you’ll like this book. Twisted, shocking and riveting!

A Good Enough Mother
By: Bev Thomas
Ruth Hartland is an experienced psychotherapist, treating patients who have suffered trauma. She is also a mother who has had her 17-year-old son disappear without a trace, seen her marriage fall apart and had her relationship with her son’s twin sister affected. An unstable new patient, who looks like her missing son, causes her to cross boundaries and affect her professional judgment. Her personal grief at her son’s disappearance set in motion events that begin to spiral out of control. This is a story about love, loss, and motherhood with the elements of a thriller, as well. Great summer read.

The Things We Cannot Say
By: Kelly Rimmer
This is another WWII story and it was beautifully written. It is about love, loss, and mostly of sacrifice and the goodness of people trying to save others, no matter what religion they are. The story goes from the war to present day. It had a very emotional ending. It was one of the better WWII books that I have read. If you read and liked The Nightingale and The Lilac Girls, you will love this book as I did.

A Mystery Inside
By: Sunny Reilly

In this novel, we follow the journey of GiGi, a 92-year-old woman who is writing her first book. With encouragement from her long-time best friend, Sara, GiGi collects touching stories and letters from several people who are willing to share and writes about how people can find healing through letter-writing whether the letters are sent or not, even years later. There is even a reference in the book of GiGi deciding to write a thank-you letter herself to a dog she had years before that brought her a lot of comfort during a period of depression. Parts of the book reminded me of the theme of the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life”. GiGi’s age at the time she wrote and had her book published is also significant and matched the age of the actual author, Sunny Reilly: one is never too old to fulfill a dream.

Leader of the Pack

By: David Rosenfelt

I have read several of David Rosenfelt’s books and this one is as funny as his others. They do seem to be somewhat the same but are enjoyable. The main character is a lawyer and quite humorous as he is telling the story. Besides actually reading this author I have listened to several of his books which is how I found I enjoyed his stories.

My Love Story
By: Tina Turner

This is the 2nd book of her life; I did not read the first one (“I, Tina” was the title, I believe). It’s fairly light reading, not terribly insightful, but entertaining. It does tell about her private life, most of which I was completely unaware of. Most of us probably only know the public side of the entertainer and some of the problems with Ike. She certainly did live through a lot and had a very unusual youth. It’s hard to believe she could ever age, given her vitality and energy.

Bring Me Back

By: B.A. Paris

The third book I read by this author was nowhere near as good as the first two! I found a lot of it to be just ‘odd’. There were times when I had to go back to be sure I didn’t skip any pages. There were definitely parts that had me on the edge of my seat, however. Once again, the ending was thrown together without much thought.

The Break Down
By: B.A. Paris

I enjoyed this author’s first book, ‘Behind Closed Doors’, and was anxious to read this next one. It, too, is a psychological thriller. I did find myself looking forward to my nightly reading time, as it does keep your interest, but like her first book, the ending seems to be thrown together without much thought. I would still recommend it, as long as you are aware that at the end, you’ll be thinking, …’huh?!’ Give it a try.

By: Deborah Feldman

Although I would say that the first third of this book was interesting, in that it gave the reader insight into the ultra-religious Satmar sect of Hasidic Jewry, the pace of the book really sped up at the point where Deborah is coming of age to be married. This is a nonfiction book, and while reading some of it I found myself shaking my head in disbelief! Though there were pages I read during which I found myself chuckling at her openness. In it, she describes how she never felt that she ‘fit in’. Though the decision to leave seemed like a ‘no-brainer’ to her, her way out would not be so easy!

Behind Closed Doors
By: B.A. Paris

If you’re looking for a book filled with suspense, this is it! I could not put it down and finished it in a day and a half. The author has you on the edge of your seat almost from the first few pages! Though the ending seemed to be haphazardly thrown together, I would still recommend this book. Her other two are not nearly as good!

You Say It First
By: Susan Mallery

If you are looking for an easy summer read this author is for you. It is part of a series called “happily inc”. A sculptor Nick Mitchell and Pallas a wedding planner cross paths and have a tumultuous relationship. All ends well, but the journey is quite an emotional adventure. The character’s friends are important to the storyline as they will have their own adventures in other parts of the series. Uplifting and funny reading at it’s best.

An Anonymous Girl
By: Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

This is the second book from this duo in what I would describe as the psychological thriller genre. The main character Jess, in need of money, scams her way into a morality study run by a therapist. She then agrees to take the study further and finds herself entwined in a nightmare that puts her life in danger. The book takes many twists and turns along the way and you may or may not forecast the conclusion. I did not predict the end and was skeptical about each character’s motive up until the culmination.

What We Buried
By: Kate A. Boorman

I found this book to be very confusing. Throughout the book, the characters keep having memories of their past. Some of these memories are repeated multiple times. At the same time, things are happening to them but they can’t decipher if they are really happening at the moment or if they are just remembering something. I thought maybe at the end it would all tie together in a big twist I didn’t see coming but that was not the case. In the end, I was still confused and I still am not sure exactly what happened. I would not recommend this one.

The Novice
By: Taran Matharu
This book was about a boy named Fletcher who was an orphan and taken in by a man in a poor town. One day when the town is open to trade goods he acquires an old book with instructions on how to Summon a demon. He runs into trouble while summoning the demon and has to run from the town. He ends up in a school for young people who have the gift of summoning demons. Here they learn more about their powers and become ready to fight in the war. I enjoyed this book. Had a Harry Potter feel to it while being very different at the same time.

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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