Another Turn of the Page: The Summer Reading List

Remember when you looked forward to summer because you were out of school, you were free to sleep late, do nothing and read whatever you wanted to read. That was me. I loved to read and still do. However now I don’t have to look forward to summer to read whatever and whenever I want.

Just for fun I asked my book group members to each compose the list of books they were hoping to read this summer. I had no restrictions. It could be anything. Maybe it was the next new book coming out in the next three months by an author they love. It could be one book or 20.

Well, I wasn’t sure I’d get anything but many indulged me and put together a list. Some said they really didn’t have any plans. Once they finished the current book they would start looking for the next. Others remarked that when they were in high school summer meant required reading lists for the fall semester and that was no fun. They didn’t want to revive bad memories.  So if you are looking for the next book in your reading life, or you are just curious,for better or worse, here is our:

SUMMER READING LIST. Sorry, no annotations but you have Amazon. Look them up. Also if you want to see the list larger just click on it.

 

Another Turn of the Page: Books, Books, and more Books

“Books to the ceiling, Books to the sky,
My pile of books is a mile high.
How I love them! How I need them!
I’ll have a long beard by the time I read them.”
Arnold Lobel

Hello Dear Reader, reader of books and reader of my blog. I have been remiss in my posting of the books my Attic Book Group has been reading. A little vacation here, a little road trip there. House guests, a Birdathon, gardening..that, and more, has taken priority over my blogging. Have the book posts been missed? Maybe not but I still feel like it is important to report on actual books being read by serious people. Not matter if the book is a history of WWII or heart-warming family saga, they are all important to the life of the reader.

Now the problem I run into is two sessions are a lot of books and if I reported on them all this post would go on for days..or it may seem that way, so I have chosen to publish the most recent meeting, May, and just post pictures of April’s list. Hope that works for those of you ( probably 2 or 3) who enjoy the book posts. I promise June will be on time and awesome.1. The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict (2016) 304 pages. This fictional biography is the story of Einstein‘s wife, a brilliant physicist in her own right, whose contribution to the Theory of Relativity is hotly debated. She may have inspired his discovery by her very personal insight but her contribution has been lost in Einstein’s enormous shadow.

2. Orphan Number Eight by Kim van Alkemade (2015) 416 pages.This historical novel, inspired by true events, is the story of a woman who must choose between revenge and mercy when she encounters the doctor who subjected her to dangerous medical experiments in a New York City Jewish orphanage years before.

3. Rosebud: The Story of Orson Welles by David Thomson (1996) 463 pages. An intriguing no-holds-barred biography of Orson Welles, who produced, co-wrote, directed and starred in Citizen Kane at the young age of 26.

4. Rogue Heroes: The History of the SAS, Britain’s Secret Special Forces Unit That Sabotaged the Nazis and Changed the Nature of War by Ben Macintyre (2016) 400 pages. According to the author, much of this book has been held in secrecy for 70 years. He had full access to the WWII archives of the Special Air Service, better known as the SAS.

5. Last Bus for Wisdom by Ivan Doig (2016) 480 pages. This is a coming of age novel and the story of a journey, in more ways than one. It’s 1951 on a ranch in Montana, an orphan boy gets sent to his grand-aunt and uncle in Wisconsin while his beloved grandmother is having an operation.
During the bus trip across Montana, North Dakota, and Minnesota on his way to Manitowoc, eleven year old Donny, decides to ask his fellow passengers to sign his memory book in the hope of making the world record for the largest collection of autographs and ditties. Note: Ivan Doig died shortly after this book was published.

6. Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu: And Their Race to Save the World’s Most Precious Manuscripts by Joshua Hammer (2016) 288 pages. True story. To save precious centuries-old Arabic texts from Al Qaeda, a band of librarians in Timbuktu pulls off a brazen heist worthy of Ocean’s Eleven. ” Librarians are the secret masters of the universe.” – Spider Robinson

7. A Curious Mind: The Secret of a Bigger Life by Brian Grazier (2015) 320 pages. ‘Grazer has been holding what he calls “Curiosity Conversations” for much of his life with people he finds interesting. What he presents in this book are chapters praising the various virtues of curiosity mixed with stories about trying to meet people for these conversations.’ -Goodreads  Reviews of this book are definitely mixed.

8. Where the Wind Leads: A Refugee Family’s Miraculous Story of Loss, Rescue and Redemption by Vinh Chung (2014) 368 pages. This is a true story of the author’s life in South Vietnam. His family was wealthy, controlling a rice-milling empire worth millions; but within months of the communist takeover in 1975 they lost everything and were reduced to abject poverty.

9. Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler (2016) 240 pages. A contemporary version of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew.

10. Dead Lands by Benjamin Percy (2015) 416 pages. A post-apocalyptic re-imagining of the Lewis and Clark saga. Years after a devastating super flu and a resulting nuclear fallout from unattended power plants, Lewis Meriwether and Mina Clark leave the failing St. Louis Sanctuary in search of hopefully an uncontaminated area. Expect monsters and unexplained science.

11. Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff (2017) 368 pages. Set in WWII, this is the story of Astrid, a Jewish woman hiding and sheltered in a traveling circus, and Noa, a younger Dutch woman who was cast out from her home when she became pregnant by a Nazi soldier. When Noa stumbles into the care of the circus the two women forge a special relationship.

12. Norwegian by Night by Derek B. Miller (2014) 304 pages. When 82-year-old American widower, Sheldon Horowitz goes to live with his granddaughter, Rhea and her Norwegian husband, Lars, in Olso, the last thing he expects is to find himself on the run from the police with a small boy in tow. But the ex-Marine, suffering dementia, has witnessed the murder of the boy’s mother and feels compelled to keep the boy safe.

 Below find April’s books. Sorry, no annotations but you know how to use Google. Click on picture for larger view of covers.

The Attic Book Group’s April selections

Another Turn of the Page: And Then There Were Six

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
Rainer Maria Rilke, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge

Yes, you’ve guessed right, the Snowbirds have not returned. On top of that we have two members that keep forgetting to put our meeting time on their calendars and two others who are involved in a health study that meets at the same time. So there were six stalwart readers at last month’s round table gathering. Nevertheless, we managed to fill up the hour because we had time for discussion. When there are 14 in attendance I do have to keep everyone on task. I don’t expect March to be any larger but I do know it is always good when readers get together. 1. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd (2001) 336 pages. A coming-to-age novel set in South Carolina at the height of desegregation. Lily is a lovable pre-teen who’d grown up believing she killed her mother (accidentally) and is trying to escape a brutal, abusive father. Lily runs away with Rosaleen, a black servant, and finds herself in the home of three black beekeeping sisters.

2. Gone by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge (Michael Bennett series #6) (2013) 386 pages. This novel opens with the Bennett family in Witness Protection, as a crazed drug lord is after them in revenge for his wife’s death. Detective Bennett’s family is comprised of a huge clan of adopted children, Michael’s grandfather, and an Irish nanny.

3. The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware (2016) 340 pages. Laura Blacklock is a travel journalist given an assignment to cover the maiden voyage of a luxury cruise liner headed to see the Northern Lights. On her first night there she meets a mysterious woman in the cabin next to hers, cabin 10. Later that evening she hears a scream and the sounds of a body being dumped into the sea. After seeing what she thinks is blood on the neighbouring railing she reports the incident, except the cabin is empty and no-one on the ship matches the woman’s description.

4. Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly (2016) 349 pages.

5. Holy Cow by David Duchovny (2015) 206 pages. Elsie Bovary, a cow, escapes her paddock one day and instead of flirting with the bulls, she goes up to the farm house. There she learns the truth, that humans eat cows. Suddenly she realizes where her mother went…

6. Rosalie Edge, Hawk of Mercy :The Activist Who Saved Nature from the Conservationists by Dyana Z. Furmansky (2009) 376 pages. Rosalie Edge (1877-1962) was the little-known and unheralded mother of the modern conservation movement. She began life as the favorite child of an over-indulgent well-to-do father and developed into a conversationist only in late middle age. Her first significant action was to question the propriety of National Association of Audubon Societies’ close ties to ammunition manufactures and hunters when she was nearly 52 years old. She goes on to develop the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in Pennsylvania.

Another Turn of the Page: The Need to Escape

“I was burning through books every day – stories about people and places I’d never heard of. They were perhaps the only thing that kept me from teetering into utter despair.”
Sarah J. Maas, A Court of Mist and Fury

full-shelfYes, our country right now is in such a state of turmoil and uncertainty that only escape into a book can keep the demons at bay. As the quote so apply says, keeps us “from teetering into despair.” Is it as bad as all that? Well sometimes. We have a narcissistic egomaniac in the White House and if it wasn’t for our humorists (who are gifted with tons of material every day) and our books, we might all just explode. Immersing oneself into an adventure, a mystery, a romance, another life, another world can be so fun and so comforting. Here’s what we escaped into in January.

jan1. Before the Fall by Noah Hawley (2016) 391 pages. A plane crash, eleven on board, only two survive, Scott, a painter, and a young boy, J.J. who Scott manages to save by swimming to shore with the boy on his back. Other occupants, like J.J.’s father, were controversial and powerful figures. Could they have been targeted? Is Scott a hero or villain?

2. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty (2014) 460 pages. Something awful happens at the annual Pirriwee Public School fund-raising. You know the What but not the Who or the How. Along the way you discover some of the dangerous little lies that people tell just to be able to face the day.

3. As You Wish : Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes (2014) 259 pages. If you have seen the movie The Princess Bride you will love this book. And then you will want to watch it all over again.

4. Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier (1997) 449 pages. The story of a soldier gone AWOL from the Civil War and his perilous journey home through the devastation the war has left in its wake. But also the story of Ada, who he is trying to return to, and her struggle to survive on her farm alone after her father dies.

5. The Gulity by David Baldacci (2015) 672 pages. Will Robie series #4. This book continues the life of Robie, a government assassin who now finds himself at a crossroad in his life. His last assignment, where he killed an innocent bystander has resulted in him questioning his capabilities.

6. Rules for Old Men Waiting by Peter Pouncey (2005) 240 pages. A book about an old guy examining his life, a book about a young man who thinks about the world, a book about a marriage relationship, a book about facing oneself, a book about discovering the effect one has had on others. Also WWI, WWII and even some rugby.

7. Pecan Man by Cassie Dandridge Selleck (2012) 146 pages. When the white police chief’s son, who we know has raped a young black girl, is found stabbed to death in the woods, the first person accused is Eldred Mims, known as the Pee-can Man. Eldred is a homeless black man who mows lawns and does yard work for a living. Though innocent, Mims is sentenced to prison.

8. All the Stars in Heaven by Adriana Trigiani (2015) 447 pages. This novel is a fictional account of the relationship between actors Loretta Young and Clark Gable on the set of The Call of the Wild in 1935.

Another Turn of the Page: Last Books of 2016

“We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.”
Edith Lovejoy Pierce

ruthsbookshelfWe ended our year with ten readers. Some were heading out to warmer points south soon and others were planning to leave after Christmas. All will continue to read but won’t need hot chocolate and thick socks. The rest of us will gather throughout the winter and share our literary finds with each other. It is good to come together and leave most of the crazy world behind and bury ourselves in the books. One of the reasons I continue to blog about our books is so the Snowbirds can keep up with the group. The other reason is everyone likes to get a suggestion for their next good read. So, eclectic as ever, here is what we read in December.december1. Rogue Lawyer by John Grisham (2015) 344 pages. This is a story of Lawyer Sebastian Rudd who represents people who no one else will touch such as drug dealers and murderers. The novel follows his life and the cases he is working on. Feels more like a short story collection than a novel.

2. Dark Matter by Blake Crouch (2016) 342 pages. On the way home from the local bar, Jason Dessen is kidnapped by an unknown assailant in a mask. After being injected with something, Jason wakes up in a world he does not recognize. I have to quote a review from Goodreads which sums this book up perfectly: It is the perfect balance of suspense, action, sci-fi, romance, and WHAT THE HECK!?!?” Best SF I’ve read in years.

3. Chasing Lincoln’s Killer by James Swanson (2009) 194 pages. Based on rare archival material, obscure trial manuscripts, and interviews with relatives of the conspirators and the manhunters, this book is about the twelve day pursuit and final capture of John Wilkes Booth.

4. The Mistletoe Secret by Richard Paul Evans (2016) 320 pages. Our charming Christmas book of the year, this is the third in Evan’s Mistletoe Collection. The first two being The Mistletoe Promise and The Mistletoe Inn. All standalone stories.

5. True Crime in Titletown, USA: Cold Cases by Tracy C. Ertl & Mike R. Knetzger (2005) 203 pages. Mike, a Green Bay, Wisconsin police officer, and Tracy, a police dispatcher, offer profiles of three historic unsolved crimes including a 1931 bank robbery, an extortion case and a restaurant murder.

6. The Ringmaster’s Wife by Kristy Cambron (2016) 356 pages. Spanning the years from 1885 to 1929, this novel reveals the true nature of life “Under the Big Top’, behind the sparkle and glitz of the performances.

7. Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom (2015) 512 pages. Music, the narrator of this book, tells the story of Frankie Presto—the greatest guitar player who ever lived—and the six lives he changed with his six magical blue strings.

8. Memory of Muskets by Kathleen Ernst (2016) 408 pages. Chloe Ellefson is a Curator at Old World Wisconsin and her supervisor wants her to plan a major Civil War battle enactment.  However, when a reenactor’s body turns up on one of the farms the celebration becomes more complicated.

9. Galway Bay by Mary Pat Kelly (2010) 551 pages. A historical fiction tale about what the Irish went through during the Potato Famine, and what led many to emigrate to America.

10. Cooking for Picasso by Camille Aubray (2016) 400 pages. A fictional story of Picasso’s stay in the French Riviera in the spring of 1936. In those few months he had a lasting impact on Ondine, the seventeen-year-old who cooked for him, and the generations that followed.

Another Turn of the Page: Back to Sanity, Back to Books

“Loyalty to country ALWAYS.

Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”
Mark Twain

A book for every state.

A book for every state.

It’s been a pretty tough week and I still can’t watch the news or open the newspaper but as I promised at the end of my last post, we are going back to the books. The November gathering was just this past Thursday so I’ve got two months of titles. October will be the main entry and I’ll give you a brief summary of the November titles at the end. Yes, another two-fer. What can I say? The Cubs, politics, working the Big Book Sale at my local library, plus still doing all that physical therapy on my knee just put the blog posts way down on the priority list. Well except for the ones I had to write to clear my head.  My quote this month is from Mark Twain. I felt it very appropriate for where I am right now and then I found the book map. Sorry about the tiny states, that is as clear as I could make it. However this link will take you to the source page and a list. A book in every state. There is fiction, nonfiction and children’s. Books will bring us together.

Here’s our October.

sept1. The Final Frontiersman: Heimo Korth and His Family, Alone in Alaska’s Arctic Wilderness by James Campbell (2004) 320 pages. James Campbell, Heimo’s cousin, writes an amazing account of the family’s nomadic life in the harsh Arctic wilderness.

2. Letters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole (2013) 290 pages. Elspeth, a published poet, receives a fan letter one day in 1912 that leads to correspondences with a young man that spans World War I and World War II.

3. Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson (2011) 359 pages. Christine, a middle-aged woman wakes up every morning with no memory of her life, she has a rare amnesia; every night she falls asleep and forgets everything. The husband she doesn’t know when she awakes helps her through the day, but what if he can’t be trusted?

4. Luck, Love & Lemon Pie by Amy E. Reichert (2016) 320 pages. When MJ’s husband starts spending more time at the casino than with her, she decides something needs to be done. That something is taking up gambling herself. But soon she gets pretty good and is the one spending more time at the poker table.

5. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (1985) 311 pages. Atwood’s terrifying dystopian novel where pollution and man-created viruses, have caused fertility rates to be so low that the few fertile women (the Handmaids) are now communal property. They are moved from house to house to be inseminated by men of power under the watchful eye of their wives. A future where women can only be the Wives, domestics (the Marthas), sexual toys (the Jezebels), female prison guards (the Aunts), wombs (the Handmaids), or, if they are unsuited for any of these roles, Unwomen who are sent off to the Colonies where they harvest cotton if they are lucky or clean out radioactive waste if they aren’t.

6.Gray Mountain by John Grisham (2014) 368 pages. Not one of Grisham’s best. His heroine, a young Manhattan lawyer, takes on the dangerous world of coal mining in Appalachia.

7.14th Deadly Sin (Women’s Murder Club #14) by James Patterson (2015) 384 pages. The return of SFPD Homicide Detective Lindsay Boxer and her friends that call themselves the Women’s Murder Club. If you follow this series, you’ll want to read it. Otherwise it is best to start at the beginning with 1st to Die.

8. The Last One by Alexandra Oliva (2016) 304 pages. It begins with a reality TV show. Twelve contestants are sent into the woods to face challenges that will test the limits of their endurance. While they are out there, something terrible happens in the real world but the contestants are made to believe it is all part of the game.

9. The One Man by Andrew Gross (2016) 416 pages. America is in a race with Germany to develop the atomic bomb. However the Allied effort is lagging behind in their so-called Manhattan Project. The one man who has the necessary knowledge to complete this task is a Polish physicist, Alfred Mendl. The only problem, he has to be rescued from Auschwitz first.

10. A Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell (2004) 442 pages. A moving story of Italian resistance during WWII, including the incredibly brave efforts of Italian Catholics to save Jewish refugees.

11. A Famine of Horses (Sir Robert Carey mystery #1) by P.F. Chisholm (1994) 268 pages. The first in a series of historical mysteries based on Sir Robert Carey, a real life character who was a courtier in Queen Elizabeth I’s court. Set along the English/Scottish Borderlands in 1592.

12. Curious Minds (Knight and Moon #1) by Janet Evanovich (2016) 336 pages. The first in a new series of thrillers by Evanovich complete with her quirky sense of humor and unique characters.

 And now a quick recap of November:

Nonfiction: Indians of the far West (1891), The Erie Canal, an artist and sequel to The Final Frontiersman.

Nonfiction: Indians of the far West (1891), The Erie Canal, an artist and sequel to The Final Frontiersman.

Mysteries & Thrillers: Talking sheep, Walt Longmire, Survival when all electricity is gone, Adventure, Buried treasure

Mysteries & Thrillers: Talking sheep look for missing shepherd, Walt Longmire, Survival when all electricity is gone, and Buried treasure

Novels: From the author of "A Man called Ove", a Romantic comedy drama, and Characters in a small college town

Novels: From the author of “A Man called Ove”, a Romantic comedy drama, and Characters in a small college town

Another Turn of the Page: Turn Off the TV and Read

“I find television very educating.
Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.”
Groucho Marx

tvI like television. I do not remember not ever having a television unlike my husband who did not have one in his early childhood. I am a great lover of fiction so drama, science fiction, medical and legal thrillers, etc. are what I watch. I do enjoy sports as well, particularly football. But in the US, the political season has taken all the joy out of my television watching. Every commercial break has some Super PAC commentator telling me something despicable about everyone running for office. How did these people get elected in the first place? The commercials make it sound like they all should be in prison. My mute button is starting to wear out. And of course tonight is the next “debate”. It will pre-empt two of my favorite shows, Madam Secretary and Elementary. Thank the TV Gods, the Green Bay Packers will be playing opposite the Trump/Hillary smack down.

Now I usually have a book handy even when I have the TV on, just to fill up the time when there is a break in the action to sell me something. But lately I have been forgetting to turn the sound back on. The book is so much better. I am also a night owl who watches a lot of late night TV but frequently I just go curl up in bed with a book. Much more calming for my brain. I’m sure I’ll go back to my normal TV habits after the election, I just hope I won’t have to be familiarizing myself with Canadian television. If you are also looking for a diversion, here are the books my group read last month.sept-copy1. Boar Island by Nevada Barr (2016) 374 pages. Anna Pigeon #19. Anna, a National Park Service Ranger, has to deal with cyber-bullying and stalking. Very little about the park so not one of the best in this series.

2. Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf (2015) 179 pages. Addie is a widow seeking companionship. She makes an intriguing proposal to her neighbor, a widower named Louis. She asks him to come over to her place and share her bed. It is just to talk and fall asleep together and break the loneliness.

3. We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates (1997) 454 pages. This book is about a large family, the Mulvaneys, living all happily until something terrible happens to the sole daughter. This book is basically about this event and the aftermath.

4. Custer’s Trials: A Life on the Frontier of a New America by T.J. Stiles (2015)
608 pages. All anyone knows about Custer is the fight at Little Bighorn, this biography covers his time in the Civil War, his time trying to make a fortune on Wall Street, his marriage and many other areas.

5. Chasing the Last Laugh: Mark Twain’s Raucous and Redemptive Round-the-World Comedy Tour by Richard Zacks ( 2016) 464 pages. A rich and lively account of how Mark Twain’s late-life adventures abroad helped him recover from financial disaster and family tragedy.

6. The Gilded Years by Karin Tanabe (2016) 379 pages. A historical novel based on the true story of Anita Hemmings, the first black student to attend Vassar, who successfully passed as white.

7. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (2011) 352 pages. The author starts with a compelling idea–taking vintage photographs with unusual subjects–and using them to weave a supernatural story of children who possess unusual abilities. A very strange and fantastic read.

8. Elephant Company: The Inspiring Story of an Unlikely Hero and the Animals who Helped Him Save Lives in World War II by Vicki Constantine Croke (2014) 368 pages. The remarkable story of James Howard “Billy” Williams, whose uncanny rapport with the world’s largest land animals transformed him from a carefree young man into the charismatic war hero known as Elephant Bill.

9. Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan (2014) 474 pages. Historical fiction featuring Robert Louis Stevenson and his American wife, Fanny.

10. Proof Positive by Phillip Margolin (2006) 320 pages. A legal thriller about the way CSI evidence can be misused by a killer to serve his own twisted sense of justice.

11. Iceberg by Clive Cussler (1974) 340 pages. An early Dirk Pitt (#2). Frozen inside a million-ton mass of ice-the charred remains of a long missing luxury yacht, vanished en route to a secret White House rendezvous. The only clue to the ship’s priceless-and missing-cargo: nine ornately carved rings and the horribly burned bodies of its crew. -Goodreads

12. Comfort Food by Kate Jacobs (2008) 336 pages. Augusta Simpson is turning 50, has two 20-something daughters, and her own cooking show which is experiencing a ratings slump. The story revolves around her need to heal from tragedy and develop better relationships with her children. Not up to the author’s usual standards.

13. Casualties by Elizabeth Marro (2015) 288 pages. The Casualties tells the story of the people living on a little street in Edinburgh, in the final weeks before an apocalyptic event which only a few of them will survive.

Another Turn of the Page: Checkout a Library Book

“A library outranks any other one thing a community can do to benefit its people.
It is a never failing spring in the desert.”
Andrew Carnegie

“Without the library, you have no civilization.”
Ray Bradbury

shelveBefore I bring you our August selection of books I want to say a few words about libraries and library books. I am always gratified and amazed at how many members of this round table book group are reading library books. I say this because for years I have read that paper books will be gone tomorrow. Yep, nobody reads actual books. Audio books or digital books on Kindle and Nook is the future. I’ve been hearing that for over 20 years. Far as I know, it still hasn’t happened. And anyone who really wants a printed paper book will just buy it. (Sure, but they ain’t cheap)  Who goes to libraries anymore? Well, a  lot of people go to libraries and it is not just the retired or the “elders.”  Granted, my book group is composed of retired people. After all, who else can meet on a Thursday at 10am in a coffee shop to discuss books? And even though this group brings books they have purchased, books they read on Kindle, books they have listened to, they also are users of the library. Of the twelve books presented last month, I believe at least ten were library books. Mine was, and I listen and buy as well. Don’t get me wrong, if you are reading I don’t care how you get your books but if you aren’t reading because books are too expensive or you don’t know how to download an audio book, well damn! you’re missing the best deal in town. Libraries have these amazing people called librarians who will teach you how to download a book or will move heaven and earth to find any book you want to read. Hey! you retired people, since you are going to the library anyway, take those grandkids along. Best way to get them started reading – young. And it’s all free! No excuses. Get thee to a library. (full disclosure, I was a librarian for 30 years)

Here’s what we read. All obtainable at your local library.

August1. Boy: Tales of Childhood by Roald Dahl (1984) 176 pages. Roald Dahl’s autobiography. He is the author of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, The BFG  and James and the Giant Peach.

2. Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty (2016) 415 pages. Six responsible adults. Three cute kids. One small dog. It’s just a normal weekend. What could possibly go wrong? Warning: You will either love Moriarty or just find her books so-so, but give her a try.

3. The King’s Deception by Steve Berry (2013) 612 pages. This book has everything you need in an adventure; an old secret, a secret society, American agents, British agents, two old ladies and a thief. This is #8 in the Cotton Malone series.

4. Vanishing Acts by Jodi Picoult (2005) 426 pages. A family drama centered on a “kidnapping” that occurred 28 years earlier.

5. Dietrich & Riefenstahl: Hollywood, Berlin and a Century in Two Lives by Karin Wieland (2013) 640 pages. Marlene Dietrich and Leni Riefenstahl, born less than one year apart, lived so close to each other that Riefenstahl could actually see into Dietrich’s Berlin apartment. Coming of age at the dawn of the Weimar Republic, both sought fame in Germany’s burgeoning silent motion picture industry.

6. Mary Anne by Daphne Du Maurier (1954) 351 pages. Written in 1951, this is a fictionalised account of the life of Mrs Mary Anne Clarke, who was the author’s great-grandmother, and who is famous principally for being the mistress of Frederick, Duke of York (second son of King George III). Not a great read. Try one of Du Maurier’s more suspenseful books, like Rebecca, for your first taste of her writing.

7. Grant Park by Leonard Pitts, Jr. (2015) 400 pages. A nice mix of thriller and a historical novel, Grant Park begins in 1968, with Martin Luther King’s final days in Memphis. The story then moves to the eve of the 2008 election, and cuts between the two eras as it unfolds. A kidnapping and a plot to kill the newly elected President Obama keeps you turning the pages.

8. Walking Home: A Pilgrimage from Humbled to Healed by Sonia Choquette (2014)
384 pages. In order to regain her spiritual footing, Sonia turns to the age-old practice of pilgrimage and sets out to walk the legendary Camino de Santiago, an 820-kilometer trek over the Pyrenees and across northern Spain. Written in a daily “diary” style.

9. The Two Mrs. Grenvilles by Dominick Dunne (1985) 374 pages. This book is a fictional account of the real life story of William and Ann Woodward. William came from a rich and powerful family in New York and Ann was just of ordinary lineage. When Ann (Grenville) “accidentally” shoots William, thinking he was a prowler, the matriarch of the family, Alice Grenville, stands behind her to avoid any scandal, but the family suffers from this decision.

10. The Pursuit by Janet Evanovich (2016) 320 pages. Fox and O’Hare series #5. Nick Fox and Kate O’Hare have to mount the most daring, risky, and audacious con they’ve ever attempted to save a major U.S. city from a catastrophe of epic proportions. Just another fun read from Evanovich.

11. The Excellent Lombards by Jane Hamilton (2016) 288 pages. This coming of age on an apple farm story is full of wonderful descriptions — of life on a farm, as a child looking in on the adult world and family relationships. It reads more like a memoir than a novel.

12. Britt-Marie was Here by Fredrik Backman (2016) 336 pages. “A heartwarming and hilarious story of a reluctant outsider who transforms a tiny village and a woman who finds love and second chances in the unlikeliest of places.” – Goodreads

Another Turn of the Page: Hot and Now

“I always read. You know how sharks have to keep swimming or they die?
I’m like that. If I stop reading, I die.”
Patrick Rothfuss

tumblr_o6mue2D9qT1qzb5wzo1_1280After missing two months in a row (April and May), I am now making up for that by posting July’s books on the same day as the meeting. Yep, hot off this morning’s discussion. And I almost didn’t make it due to a doctor’s appointment that went long. Because of that I missed Rikki’s presentation on Jan Karon. In a short recap, Rikki told me she wanted to talk about the author of the wholesome Mitford and Father Tim books because Karon’s life was anything but stable or ordinary or wholesome. Briefly she dropped out of school at 14, got married (you could do that legally in South Carolina), had a baby at 15, two years later her husband was paralyzed from a gun accident and she was ultimately divorced and a single parent by 18. And it goes on from there. Sorry I missed it.

Since the table was packed with people (14) I have a lot of books to cover so I am going to get on that now. For your July reading pleasure:
july1. Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good by Jan Karon (2014) 511 pages. After five hectic years of retirement from Lord’s Chapel, Father Tim Kavanagh returns with his wife, Cynthia, from a so-called pleasure trip to the land of his Irish ancestors.

2. All Over Creation by Ruth Ozeki (2003) 432 pages. A warm and witty saga about agribusiness, environmental activism, and community. The author also wants you to learn about the evils of GMOs.

3. The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri (2016) 340 pages. Two brothers, born fifteen months apart in Calcutta, India, are inseparable until the 1960’s when their interests begin to diverge. Udayar becomes a follower of Mao’s revolutionary politics but Subhash goes to America to continue his studies. A book you must stick with to discover how the lives of the two affect family and friends.

4. We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver (2003) 400 pages. This book is touted as an international bestseller. Well that may be true but our reviewer was less than enthusiastic about it. Kevin is a teenage mass murderer. And as one review stated,”It is a family saga that features a sordid tragedy, filled with abhorrent, compelling, wretched, titillating detail.” I suggest you read a lot of reviews before you consider it for your bookshelf.

5. Zero Day by David Baldacci (2011) 434 pages. #1 in the John Puller series. John Puller is a crackerjack military investigator, who heads out of the DC area to the south, to check out the death of a senior officer in unsavory conditions. It’s a goodie and you’ll be glad there are more in the series.

6. Steel Kiss by Jeffery Deaver (2016) 496 pages. Lincoln Rhyme #12. The “Steel Kiss” of the title is the name of a manifesto from a domestic terrorist, a man who is brutally murdering those he calls “Shoppers” by using the intelligent data chips in their own consumer appliances against them and sending rants to the newspapers about materialism and greed.

7. Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce (2014) 352 pages. This novel is a parallel story to The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. Why would Harold walk 600 miles to see Queenie before she dies? In this story we discover what is happening with Queenie while Harold walks, the reason he walks, the present life of Queenie and their interlacing history. PS: The Pilgrimage of Harold Fry is really good so read it first.

8. Avenger by Frederick Forsyth (2003) 352 pages. An older thriller by one of the masters. Forsyth is the author of The Day of the Jackel. In this adventure we get to know the Avenger, a Vietnam vet who uses his unique set of skills to hunt down and bring to justice those who prey upon the innocent. Pure escapism.

9. General Patton: A Soldier’s Life by Stanley Hirshson (2002) 826 pages. Our reviewer found this book to be a very well written and very satisfying look at the American military icon, General George S. Patton, Jr. He said it revealed information about some of the myths and some of the unusual truths about Patton.

10. A Different Kind of Normal by Cathy Lamb (2012) 416 pages. A novel about a boy named Tate. He is seventeen, academically brilliant, funny, and loving. He’s also a talented basketball player. However Tate has been born with Hydrocephalus, the medical term for a very large head and facial features that don’t really line up.  Dealing with the mean-spirited people in the world is only part of his problems.

11. Where the Bodies are Buried: Whitey Bulger and the World that Made Him by T.J.English ( 2015) 448 pages. The story of James “Whitey” Bulger, the notorious Boston crime boss.

12. Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg (2015) 293 pages. On the eve of her daughter’s wedding, June Reid’s life is completely devastated when a shocking disaster takes the lives of her daughter, her daughter’s fiancé, her ex-husband, and her boyfriend, Luke—her entire family, all gone in a moment. June is the only survivor.

13. The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction by Neil Gaiman (2016) 522 pages. A great collection of nonfiction essays on a variety of topics—from art and artists to dreams, myths, and memories—told in Gaiman’s amusing, and distinctive style. A good book to own so you can pick up whenever you have time to read one or two entries.

14. Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld (2016) 492 pages. This book is the fourth in the Austen Project. This Project pairs six bestselling contemporary authors with Jane Austen’s six complete works: Sense & Sensibility, Northanger Abbey, Pride & Prejudice, Emma, Persuasion and Mansfield Park. Taking these stories as their base, each author writes their own unique version. Eligible is Pride and Prejudice.

 

I’m Reading as Fast and as Slow as I Can

Reading creates a roller-coaster of emotions. If you are strictly a non-fiction reader or a reader of periodicals you probably never have experienced the apprehension that occurs when nearing the end of a really good book of fiction. In a good book you become personally invested in the story, there are characters you really care about, they feel like friends that you have been with through thick and thin. As their story comes to the end you start reading faster…what’s going to happen? Will they survive? Will they realize their dream? And then you remember that the faster you read, the faster this story, that you have loved for 400 pages will be over, done, finished. The End!

So you start to slow down. I’ve even put a book down and done a chore, like the dishes, and then come back and read one more chapter, then went and folded the laundry, and then back for another chapter. Here’s your treat Jeanne, good girl! Of course this only works so long and you slowly come to the end or you just give up and read it all. And there you are. The tale is done, your characters have finished their journey. But you can’t call them in a few days to go to lunch and you can’t “friend” them on Facebook. There will be no headlines in the paper about their harrowing adventure, no obituary in the Times.3121473

This just happened to me twice in one week. I usually have 2 – 3 stories going at once. This past week I happened to be reading Windigo Island, the fourteenth book in the Cork O’Connor series by William Kent Krueger and I was listening to the third book in Stephen King’s Bill Hodges trilogy, End of Watch.

In the former, Cork O’Connor is a sheriff in a small town in Northern Minnesota. He is part Irish/part Ojibwe so his friends, his cases, his family cross over to the reservation area. We meet his kids, his wife, her family. Over the course of 14 books, his family grows, his job changes, he finally becomes a private investigator and, as in any mystery series, he deals with more murders and unusual cases that any real small town sheriff or PI ever would. There is also a wonderful spiritual aspect to these books because of Cork’s Ojibwe blood. Many times he seeks advice from Henry, a Mide, a spiritual leader in the tribe. There are visions and sweat lodge experiences and ritual. Wondeful stuff. But now I’ve read the last book! Wait, no! These people have been living with me since early 2015 when I read the first book, Iron Lake. Of course back then, when I was nearing the end of one book I quickly looked up the next one and reserved it through the library so it was ready when I finished the current one. That’s the upside of discovering a series that is mostly written. This time there was no next book until recently when I discovered he was writing #15 Manitou Canyon, due out in September. Ah, big sigh of relief.

First and currently last in the Cork O'Connor series

First and currently last in the Cork O’Connor series

The other book I finished was End of Watch. Since I came to this trilogy as King was writing it, it took three years before I came to the end and the wait between books is always agonizing. In 2014 King released Mr. Mercedes, a straight up mystery/crime/thriller. It was so good. Frankly, I think Stephen King has been writing some of his best work in the last five years. Anyway, on to 2015 and Finders,Keepers came out. Crime novel, private eye stuff again but with a twist, a Stephen King twist, some woo-woo stuff that I love but damn!!!! I had to wait another year for End of Watch. So here I am in the third year, get the book right after it comes out and I am reading like crazy only…..WAIT. ONE. MINUTE. This has been a three-year love affair with a story and characters and I am about to gulp it down. I slowed a little but all good things must end. This one even brought out a few tears, not because the trilogy was over but because of the story, yes I get very involved with my characters. (no spoilers for you folks, read it!).

Bill Hodges Trilogy

Bill Hodges Trilogy

So I mourn a little a story ends but then the search is quickly on for another book. Right now I am doing a stand alone, LaRose by Louise Erdrich and I know already I am going to get close to the characters but at least I won’t have to wait for a sequel to finish the story.  Hey anyone want to recommend a good series?