Monday, April 29, 2013

DADDY'S GONE A HUNTING by Mary Higgins Clark

     In her latest novel Mary Higgins Clark, the beloved "Queen of Suspense", exposes a dark secret from a family's past that threatens the lives of two sisters, Kate and Hannah Connelly, when the family-owned furniture firm in Long Island City, founded by their grandfather and famous for its fine reproductions of antiques, explodes into flames in the middle of the night, leveling the buildings to the ground, including the museum where priceless antiques have been on permanent display for years.
     What was Kate Connelly and Gus (a retired and disgruntled craftsman), doing in the museum when it burst into flames? The ashes reveal a startling and grisly discovery, and provoke a host of suspicions and questions.  Was the explosion deliberately set? 
     Now Gus is dead, and Kate lies in the hospital badly injured and in a coma, so neither can tell what drew them there, or what the tragedy may have to do with the hunt for a young woman missing for many years, nor can they warn that somebody may be covering his tracks, willing to kill to save himself.
     Step by step, in a novel dazzling with suspense and excitement, Mary Higgins Clark once again demonstrates the mastery of her craft that has made her books international bestsellers for years.
She presents the reader with a perplexing mystery, a puzzling question of identity, and a fascinating cast of characters-one of whom may be a ruthless killer.


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Look Me In the Eye: My life with Asperger’s

by John Elder Robison
 At an early age John Elder Robison sensed that he was different. In pre-school he longed to make friends and engage in activities with other kids but could never get anyone to play with him. Instead he spent time in his own world playing with and naming his toys. His first real friend was a toy dump truck that he named ‘Chippy’.
Entangled in a caustic home life with an alcoholic father and a mother who teetered on the brink of mental break-down, John’s childhood was an uphill battle that was only compounded by Asperger syndrome.  Unable to rely on his parents or to establish relationships with others, John was soon labeled a ‘social deviant’ and spent most of his time tinkering with electronics and commandeering the attention of his much younger brother (Augusten Burroughs, author of ‘Running with Scissors’).  John dismantled radios, dug five feet holes in his yard to trap his brother, and even built from his Erector set a tall crane that could lift blocks into his brother’s crib. When he dropped out of high school and began pursuing employment, his electronic experimentation paid off. He was soon on the road (literally and figuratively) with various rock bands using his skills to improve their sound by tweaking amplifiers. His last and most famous tour was with the band KISS. It was Robison who designed and executed the spinning and rocket shooting guitars and pyrotechnics that was synonymous with the band.
This book is a fascinating read and one that left me marveling at a resilient nature of a man who overcame huge obstacles and in the end, built a pretty remarkable life. It is a funny, sincere and eye-opening account of Asperger syndrome and a family spiraling out of control.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Reunion

Aaron Miller is an honorable Vietnam veteran who was cut off from his wife and children after the war.  His children grow up thinking he never cared to be part of their lives.   He's a handyman at a trailer park, loved and respected by everyone he knows.

An investigative reporter is hired to find Aaron and in the process, he finds Aaron's son and daughter.  The son is more open to the idea of learning more about Aaron, but the daughter is much more resistant.  She's not exactly in the mood to discuss her father when she is still trying to nheal from her husband's affair and their subsequent divorce.  In this relatively short novel, Dan expertly weaves the lives of many individuals into tearful closure.

Reunion is an incredible story that reminds us to honor our veterans.  When the Vietnam vets returned, they were spit on and protested and services were lacking.   I can't remember the statistics for the number of veterans who are homeless, but I do know that a good number of them are due to substance abuse and mental illness.   Think of the implications of those who just returned from Iraq and Afghanistan.  Many of us will never be able to comprehend all that they have endured.  Not everyone will receive the recognition they deserve, either.   This book is a glimpse into the "what if."

Friday, April 12, 2013

Telling the Bees

With echoes of The Remains of the Day, an elderly beekeeper looks back on his quiet life, and the secrets of a woman he never truly knew.

Albert Honig’s most constant companions have always been his bees. A never-married octogenarian, he makes a modest living as a beekeeper, as his father and his father’s father did before him. Deeply acquainted with the workings of the hives, Albert is less versed in the ways of people, especially his friend Claire, whose presence and absence in his life have never been reconciled.

When Claire is killed in a seemingly senseless accident during a burglary gone wrong, Albert is haunted by the loss, and by the secrets and silence that hovered between them for so long. As he pieces together the memories of their shared history, he will come to learn the painful truths about Claire’s life, and the redemptive power of laying the past to rest.           Amazon review.

Monday, April 08, 2013


"Calling Me" is a historical fiction read that deals with interracial marriage, civil rights, parenting, and women's rights.  But mostly it's about forbidden love and friendship that, sadly society doesn't wholeheartedly support.

This story is about a relationship between thirty-something Dorrie, a hairdresser and a black single mother of two, and an eighty-nine year old Isabelle, an elderly white woman in Texas.  Isabelle convinces Dorrie to embark on a car road trip to Kentucky.  Dorrie is driving Isabelle to a funeral.
It's through Dorrie and Isabelle's narratives that the story really comes to life.  Miss Isabelle begins to tell her story when she was a teenager in 1939 and fell in love with their maid's son, Robert.  The two are committed to each other but there many things conspiring against them.  As Miss Isabelle shares her story it is easy to see what a remarkable relationship she and Robert shared, yet Dorrie knows from seeing the pictures in Isabelle's house that everyone in Isabelle's life was white.  What happened to Robert and the love they shared?  The flashbacks to the 1930s and 1940s helps the reader gain more insight in what life was like back then for both Blacks and Whites in Kentucky and how even though Blacks had rights they still were far from being treated respectfully as their white peers were.  By Julie Kibler

Monday, April 01, 2013

Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage

Mo's always been lucky.  She was born during a hurricane eleven years ago, found on a piece of debris washed up on a creek near Tupelo Landing, North Carolina.  The Colonel wrecked his car in this hurricane, lost all memory of his former life,  rescued the baby and named her, Moses.  He now runs the Cafe in Tupelo Landing with  Miss Lana, his cook, and they are Mo's parents.  Mo's best friend is  Dale Earnhardt Johnson III, and together they have plans for a day of fishing to start this summer.   Mo longs to find her "Upstream Mama" and she writes letters describing her life in Tupelo Landing, places them in bottles and gives them to those who  offer to take them far upstream and let them go in hopes of helping Mo locate her birth mother.  Mo is smart,  sassy and a born detective.  She and Dale form the Desperado Detective agency to solve local crimes, find missing cats and any other jobs that they can find.  But when the town crank, Mr. Jessie, is found murdered, and Dale is a  a possible suspect, she gets to work looking for clues to solve this crime.  A city-slick detective comes to town and his questions disrupt not only her summer but may threaten to disrupt her life, as well.  Will Mo's luck hold on?  Will the Colonel's past come back to haunt him?  Will the new hurricane that comes blowing into Tupelo Landing destroy the only home Mo has ever known?   Will Mo ever find her "Upstream Mama"?  This is a heart-warming read for the young-of-heart reader.  The mystery is suspenseful, the hurricane blows up a tense finale and readers will find they are the lucky ones for reading this book!  Three Times Lucky was an Honor award book on this year's Newbery Award winners for best in Children's literature.