Thursday, December 13, 2012

Will Sparrow's Road

Will Sparrow's Road, by Karen Cushman, will give young readers  a look at what life was like for a poor, young boy in Elizabethan England.  Will's father is a drunk who sold him to an innkeeper in exchange for liquor.  When Will steals a pie the innkeeper threatens to sell him to a man who will make him a chimney sweep.  Will knows that this is a death sentence.  So he runs away with no shoes and a blanket that smells of a horse as his only possession.

Will meets a number of people along the road as he flees, including a thief who steals his blanket and the bag of apples he has harvested.  Finally Will falls in with a man named Tidball who travels from fair to fair with his crew of oddities and prodigies.  At first he is grateful to Master Tidball and afraid of the cat-faced girl and the surly dwarf who are also part of the crew.

It takes a while for Will to learn to see the cat-faced girl who has named herself Grace Wise and the dwarf whose name is Fitz as people just like him.  It takes him even longer to see that Master Tidball is not the benevolent man he first thought he was.

This story follows Will as he finds a home and family of his choosing.  We also get to see Will learn to care about others.  The life of a young boy on his own in Elizabethan England is hard with lots of hunger and rough treatment.  We see  a lot of people who are not kind but we also see quite a few people who are kind to Will, too.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Five Miles South of Peculiar

Five Miles South of Peculiar is a well written story that describes in detail the four persons, three sisters and one pastor all living together on a Southern Florida estate.  It describes how each got to be where they are presently, and the life that each created for themselves.  Dalene is afraid of living in her Broadway sister's shadow.  Carlene, the star, lost her singing voice after an operation failed, and Magnolia had her heart broken and cannot move on.  The book talks of loss of love, family dynamics, and the dysfunctional past for each character even though they are siblings who all grew up togerther.  Five Miles also looks at life in a small town and what life is like for those living there.  Sisters would love this book and could relate to the situations described.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Harbinger

This is the book so many are talking about. Author Jonathan Cahn shares with the reader nine harbingers (signs) that occurred within ancient Israel and have now occurred in America...beginning with 9/11 and on to the collapse of the global economy.  Cahn's  book is an eye opener for America.                                                                                                      Written as a story, but with actual content, The Harbinger begins with a man who is burdened with a series of messages he has received in the form of nine seals. Each seal is linked to a prophetic mystery concerning America and its' future.  Learn about the fallen bricks, the Erez tree, the Sycamore tree, the Gazit stone and more!                                                     This is a must read for America!

The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen

Some people are born to run. They love to run. They live to run. Jessica is one of those people. She says, "I run everywhere. I race everyone. I love the wind across my cheeks, through my hair. Running airs out my soul. Makes me feel alive." Her High School track coach says she has a true talent for running and that she will be going somewhere...someday. But one day, on the way to a track meet, the bus carrying the team was hit by a large truck. Jessica was the lucky one; she lived. Lucy did not. Now Jessica has to face her future with only one leg. She doesn't feel like the lucky one. Her one leg is gone below the knee. She's certain she'll never run again. She will walk again with a prosthesis, but her dream of running is over. But she still dreams her running dream every night: she can hear and feel her feet hitting the pavement and the wind blowing through her hair until she wakes up. Going back to school was the hardest thing Jessica had to face. She was way behind on her homework and she felt like a freak. But her best friend, Fiona and her track coach have a plan. They are going to make it the track team's project to raise the $20,000 for a new leg for Jessica...a running leg! That's a lot of money! How will they ever do it? Jessica doesn't have much hope, but when she watches the YouTube of the amputee runner racing around the track on his running leg, she starts to hope again. People with disabilities just want other people to see them as people, not as someone with a disability. Jessica's friendship with Rosa, a girl with Cerebral Palsy, has shown her that this is especially true, not just for herself. Rosa passed a note to Jessica in math class offering to help her catch up in her homework. "I'm a math genius!" Rosa's note says. And as Jessica and Rosa work together, Jessica begins to develop a plan to help Rosa accomplish her dream of running as well. This book will keep you running from chapter to chapter to see what happens next! You won't want to miss the finish line of this great book! It is located in Teen Fiction section.

Monday, October 22, 2012


The man who became Father Time

      In Mitch Albom's newest work of fiction, Dor, the inventor of the world's first clock is punished for trying to measure God's greatest gift.  He is banished to a cave for centuries and forced to listen to the voices of all who come after him seeking more days, more years.
     Eventually, with his soul nearly broken, Father Time is granted his freedom, along with a magical hourglass and a mission: a chance to redeem himself by teaching two earthly people the true meaning of time.
     He returns to our world--now dominated by the hour-counting he so innocently began--and commences a journey with two unlikely partners: one a teenage girl (Sarah Lemon) who is about to give up on life, the other a wealthy old businessman (Victor Delamonte) who wants to live forever.  To save himself, he must save them both. And stop the world to do so.
     Try to imagine a life without timekeeping.  You probably can't.  You know the month, the year, the day of the week.  There is clock on your wall or the dashboard of your car.  You have a schedule, a calendar, a time for dinner or a movie.
      Yet all around you, timekeeping is ignored.  Birds are not late.  A dog does not check its watch.  Deer do not fret over passing birthdays.
      Man alone measure time.
      Man alone chimes the hour.
      And, because of this, man alone suffers a paralyzing fear that no other creature endures.
      A fear of time running out.
      This remarkably original tale will inspire readers everywhere to reconsider their own notions of time, how they spend it and how precious it truly is.

Fic Albom, Fantasy

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A silver lining awaits

The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick
As I recently devoured Matthew Quick’s debut novel I kept thinking ‘this book would make a great movie’. Come to find out, David O Russell (director of film ‘The Fighter’) was thinking along the same lines. A film by the same title and based on the book will be out in the theatres this Thanksgiving. This story is engaging and Matthew Quick has created a loveable and quirky (although troubled) main character, Pat Peoples.
Pat has recently been released from ‘the bad place’ – a mental institution where he believes he has spent the last few months. Upon his release, he goes to live with his parents where he attempts to place the pieces of his broken life back into place. He eventually discovers that those ‘few months’ in the mental institution was in actuality four years. In that time, his wife Nikki has sued for divorce and has placed a restraining order against him. Pat is certain that if he can arrange a meeting with Nikki, he can persuade her that he is well, no longer poses a physical threat, and additionally impress her with the fact that he has finally read several literary classics that she, an English teacher, had always wished he would read. Pat's theory is if this happens, a blissful reconciliation will surely transpire.
Enter Tiffany, the equally wounded and odd sister of Pat’s best friend’s wife.  Tiffany’s husband was tragically killed and because she is also now single and struggling emotionally, Pat’s friend thinks Pat and Tiffany are an ideal match. From the onset, Pat and Tiffany’s relationship is an awkward one. Pat is on a mission to improve his physique and so keeps an arduous regiment of running and exercise. Tiffany is on a mission to stalk Pat and so accompanies him on his daily runs; uninvited, running several paces behind and rarely offering up a word of conversation. When she finally does speak, she makes a deal with Pat; she will serve as the liaison between Nikki and Pat. In return, Pat must agree to Tiffany’s specific conditions.
This book is about relationships on all levels; Pat and his father, Pat and his brother, Pat and his mother and the unlikely relationship he develops with his therapist. This is a book you should pick up soon – and be sure to read it before you see the movie.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Safekeeping by Karen Hesse

With her parents' , teachers' & school administrators' blessings, Radley has been working as a volunteer in an Orphanage in post-earthquake Haiti.  While she is in Haiti, the President is assassinated and the American People's Party takes over the government of the U.S.   This new government comes down hard on the people"vigilante groups, police raids & looting abound.  Illnesses believed to have been conquered return because people are in close, unsanitary quarters.

Radley returns to her New England home town after she hears of what has happened, but her parents aren't at the airport to meet her.  Her phone isn't working.  Her credit card has been cancelled, because all phone lines are down.  She has none of  the required travel papers.  She decides to walk to her own home & hides there for a time - scurrying into the attic at the sound of police - than decides that she must walk even farther: to Quebec.

Another young woman, Celia, has joined Radley, & they find an abandoned schoolhouse in Quebec to survive until things calm down in the U.S., if not forever.   They are quietly helped by a benefactor known as Our Lady of the Barn.

This novel has political overtones, it is more about what Radley learns during her time on her own.  The biggest pluses of "Safekeeping" are Radley's thoughts about her parents.  All too often in YA books, parents are in there or aren't very good parents.  Radley has great parents, & she realizes that she didn't thank or appreciate them nearly enough.  Hopefully, "Safekeeping" will help teens see their parents in a new way.

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Absolutist

It didn't take me long to read The Absolutist, by John Boyne. The author is very skilled at building tension and suspense, so I flipped pages fairly fast. Just when I thought I had things fairly figured out, he threw a bit of a curve ball. I've not read a book about WWI yet that hasn't brought me to tears. But this is one of the saddest. It's heartbreaking, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't read it. There is much to think about and discuss, so it would make a great book club choice. The characters are complex enough that I'm not entirely sure which one I sympathized with the most, but I like that in a book. These folks are flawed, just like the rest of us. As for the book, I think it's almost flawless.

Friday, September 14, 2012


In 1951 Samuel Baldwin, an important government employee, was found dead in the family’s rental property in Wichita Hills by his twelve-year-old daughter Lucy.
For several years afterwards, Lucy and her mother lived in Santa Fe where they escaped after the scandal.   These events would follow them the rest of their lives.   One day Lucy, who was now a well-known children's book author, left New York with her two children and moved into their family home; thus their lives would never be the same.
 In this small town, neighbors walked into your home for your door was never closed or locked.  They wanted to know your innermost thoughts and if you didn’t share you were labeled “different” and “uncool.”  For the neighbors wanted to know everything  about each other, and Lucy’s secret life would separate her from her neighbors and into someone who they whispered about.  Lucy’s daughter, Maggie, wondered about the secrets her mother never shared with her. Maggie and others wanted to know who the father of Lucy’s two children Maggie and Felix was; why did Lucy tell so many lies; what really happened to Lucy’s father; and why was her mother not like the others?  These unanswered questions would cause a riff between Maggie and her mother and lead Maggie to make some very bad, unsafe choices.
This book is reminder of what can happen when secrets and lies are part of who you are and when protective boundaries do not exist.

By Susan Richard Shreves

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

My name is Ivan. I'm a gorilla. It's not as easy as it looks...

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate tells the story of Ivan, a silverback gorilla who has lived 27 years in the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade.  Ivan does not think of the jungle home he left as a baby gorilla.  He does think of art and how he could capture the way a banana looks.  His friend, Julia, the janitor's daughter brings Ivan paper and crayons.  Ivan's pictures are so good that Mack, the owner of the Big Top Mall, frames them and sells them in the gift shop for $25.00.
Ivan's world consists of his cell with its thick glass walls; his friends the elderly elephant, Stella, and the stray dog, Bob. One day their world changes drastically when a new baby elephant is brought to live at the Big Top Mall.  Ruby is small and afraid.  Stella protects her and comforts her but realizes that Ruby should be living in a real zoo with other elephants and trees and grassy open spaces. Stella makes Ivan promise to help Ruby get to a real zoo, someday.  It is the last thing that Stella asks of Ivan before she dies.  Ivan does not know how he will ever keep his promise.  
One day, after thinking about this problem for a very long time, Ivan looks out his window at the billboard outside the mall.  He is inspired to create a message in art that will lead, not only to Ruby's freedom but his own as well.
Katherine Applegate was inspired to write this touching story when she read a true story about a captive gorilla known as Ivan, the Shopping Mall Gorilla.   The real Ivan lived alone in a tiny cage at a shopping mall before being moved to the Zoo Atlanta after a public outcry.  He became a celebrity at the zoo which houses the largest collection of western lowland gorillas in the United States.  Ivan was well known for his paintings which he signed with his  "thumbprint" signature.  The real Ivan lived to be 50 years old and just recently died peacefully in the Zoo Atlanta.
The One and Only Ivan is a wonderful story that has Ivan save Ruby with his art and is saved himself by the brave efforts of Julia to put his art up where the world would see it and respond.  This is a warm, wonderful story that young and old will want to read again and again.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Gone Missing

Rumspringa is the time when Amish teens are allowed to experience life without the rules. It’s an exciting time of personal discovery and growth before committing to the church. But when a young teen disappears without a trace, the carefree fun comes to an abrupt and sinister end, and fear spreads through the community like a contagion.
A missing child is a nightmare to all parents, and never more so than in the Amish community, where family ties run deep. When the search for the presumed runaway turns up a dead body, the case quickly becomes a murder investigation. And chief of Police Kate Burkholder knows that in order to solve this case she will have to call upon everything she has to give not only as a cop, but as a woman whose own Amish roots run deep.
Kate and state agent, John Tomasetti, delve into the lives of the missing teen and discover links to cold cases that may go back years. But will Kate piece together all the parts of this sinister puzzle in time to save the missing teen and the Amish community from a devastating fate? Or will she find herself locked in a fight to the death with a merciless killer?
Amazon review.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

My Favorite Cashew

Carroll County, Indiana resident C.B. Anderson, who we know locally as Cindi Anderson, has written a memoir of her husband, Dr. Tom Anderson (Doc Anderson), a beloved country doctor. Doc was not your typical doctor but was one who charged little, sometimes nothing. He wanted to be a doctor, not to make lots of money, but to merely help. And that he did! (Doc passed away in 2008).

The story is written for several reasons. Yes, to honor Doc but also for the purpose of  encouragement to any who have suffered and are yet suffering from being sexually abused as a child. This book shows how such horrific childhood abuses, on any scale, stay with you for a lifetime!  Cindi also wrote to encourage any suffering from bipolar disorder, as Doc. himself did. 

C.B. Anderson, in My Favorite Cashew,  is honest and real as she shares their years of mariage, Doc's grieving for the love he felt he missed as a child, their country-style existence, and the ups and downs of depression and sorrow from childhood trauma.  It's a memoir and it's special.  

This book comes electronically and in paper and is available at the Delphi Public Library.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Along the Way: the journey of a father and son

Along the way: the journey of a father and son by Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez, with Hope Edelman

This double-memoir,  written by actors Martin Sheen and his son, Emilio Estevez takes us a journey which shares stories of their lives, careers and their relationships.

Alternating chapters between one another, I found Sheen's life very intriguing. The son of a Spanish immigrant father and an Irish immigrant mother, Martin was raised in Dayton, Ohio and offered an insight on what it was like to be a member of a large, Catholic family, focusing on the trials and tribulations of how a young man takes on the challenge of following his dream of becoming an actor while also raising his family of four.

His son Emilio recounts his experiences on various movie locations with his father and as we soon begin to notice similarities between father and son regarding their personal and professional lives and successes.

A good read for those who enjoy biographies.

Friday, August 10, 2012

A Land More Kind Than Home

By Wiley Cash

Jess Hall is a curious young boy growing up in a small North Carolina town. He is protective of his older brother Christopher, a mute affectionately nicknamed Stump. He is in awe of his father who is capable of any task needed at his family’s tobacco farm. And he is very curious about what happens inside the church his mother attends. He is equally curious about what he sees and hears taking place in his parent’s bedroom on a summer afternoon while his father is away.

What he witnesses launches Jess and his brother into a haunting tale of secrecy, brutal death and ultimately courage. The story is told by three narrators –Jess; Miss Lyle, church member and town midwife; and Clem Barefield, the county sheriff whose painful past is forever linked to the Hall family. In this debut novel, Cash masterfully employs these three characters as individual threads who, chapter by chapter, weave this intriguing story into a rich fabric of literary beauty.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Wild: from lost to found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

     A powerful, blazing honest memoir: the story of an eleven-hundred-mile solo hike that broke down a young woman reeling from catastrophe-and built her back up again.
     At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything.  In the wake of her mother's death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed.  Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life; to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State, and to do it alone.  She had no experience as a long-distance hiker, and the trail was little more than "an idea, vague and outlandish and full of promise."  But it was a promise of piecing back together a life that had come undone.
     Strayed faces down rattlesnakes and black bears, intense heat and record snowfalls, and both the beauty and loneliness of the trail.  Told with great suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor.  Wild vividly captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.

921 Strayed, Non-fiction, Suspense

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Magician's Assistant

I should have read this book years ago. I'm not entirely sure why I didn't. I love Ann Patchett's work--Bel Canto is on my top 10 list of favorite books. I guess I wasn't interested in reading about a magician or his assistant. It seemed like a silly topic. Oh boy, was I wrong; it is about so much more than that. It's about love, family, grief, magic, and place. I loved the characters in this book, and the story line is thoughtful and thought-provoking. Don't delay reading The Magician's Assistant
like I did!

Monday, July 09, 2012


Caroline Evans has left her cheating husband and her high class life behind in Singapore and takes her 15 year old daughter with her. Starting over is not going to be easy but it is better than living a lie. Caroline and Issy end up in Oxfordshire, England. They happen upon an English pub, where owner Maggie takes them in and has Caroline cooking up a storm in the kitchen in no time. Caroline loves to cook. Issy makes friends with Maggie's daughter, but she still blames her mother for taking her away from her father and ruining her life. Their lives take a turn as Caroline decides to follow her dream and create her own place in the country, while Issy is stuck in that time between a girl and becoming a young woman and making some new dangerous choices. Caroline is doing what she knows is right no matter how difficult. Issy just wants to return home and go back to normal. They meet many new people in the country that quickly become friends. Their past comes up-close and personal when someone is murdered and an unexpected visitor comes to visit them in the country. The mystery adds to this emotional story between mother and daughter and makes the read surprising and exciting. Twists and turns maneuver the story in different directions. A direction that shows Caroline how strong she had become since she was at her ex-husband's beck and call. This is a book to get lost in on a sunny afternoon.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Mountain Between Us

Charles Martin has done it again...written another superb book. In The Mountain Between Us, Martin takes you on a journey with Dr. Ben Payne and Ashley Knox, strangers who were scheduled for the same canceled flight. Minutes later, they are together on a small chartered plane, heading home; she for her wedding and he to his work as a Dr..

The story unfolds when the pilot dies midflight over "one of the largest stretches of harsh and remote land in the United States" and crash-lands the plane at 15,000 ft elevation and 50 miles from any civilization. No wheels, no wings, Ben and Ashley, injured but alive, must battle the elements, a mountain cat or two, find food, not freeze to death, and somehow get themselves off the mountains.  Don't be fooled; this is not just a story of survival, though I love survival stories! But it's also a story about mountains.... personal mountains, and specifically Ben's mountain. A mountain he must climb, conquer and hopefully descend!

The Mountain Between Us is well written and holds you til you finish. Matter of fact, I finished this book, sitting outside on a warm, VERY warm, Sunday afternoon...... in the elements! It only seemed right to do so. I was accompanied by a sparrow wetting it's wings in a nearby bird bath, three lazy cats sprawled out on my lawn sleeping soundly and letting the bird bathe, and a best-friend Border Collie, eyes on me, sitting at my feet.  There was a delicate breeze that made it all lovely and bearable as I spent time with Ben and Ashley who were not having a lovely time in their own brutal elements.  I survived the heat; Ben and Ashley, they..... Well! You read it yourself!

Charles Martin also wrote When Crickets Cry and Where the River Ends. Both worth your time. The Mountain Between Us is the June 2012 selection for the Delphi Public Library Faith-Inspired Book Club!

Monday, May 28, 2012

We Need To Talk About Kevin

by Lionel Shriver

Eva Khatchadourian was once a successful travel writer. Now, she considers it a success if she can remove the remnants of the vandalism that's left behind by irate haters. For you see, two years earlier her son Kevin orchestrated a massacre at his local high school, killing several students and a teacher who had considered Kevin a challenge.

A very well written book, We Need To Talk About Kevin is composed of letters that Eva has written to her  husband, Franklin. Letters that allow her to express herself completely in regards to the mother-son relationship that she shared with Kevin.  Her inability to bond with with her troubled son, as an infant and throughout his teen years, and the subtle and sinister behavior that he displayed with sociopathic zest.

Brutally tragic, this novel will remain in your mind long after you've finished reading it.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Girlchild: a novel

Tupelo Hassman has left me intrigued. Her debut novel is part poetry, part visual art, and a significant portion is just great storytelling. I have written her name down on my ‘need to read list’ so I will remember to jump on the ‘hold’ list for her next novel.
Rory Dawn Hendrix lives with her mother on the margin of society in the Calle de las Flores, a trailer park outside of Reno. Her mom tends bar at the local ‘Truck Stop’ and then spends her after work hours drinking her earnings. Growing up has been left largely to Rory to figure out on her own– supplemented with occasional advice from her grandmother. Early in her elementary years, Rory discovers The Girl Scout Handbook and she has checked it out so often that her name fills all the lines on the circulation card. But even clearly defined chapters such as The Right Use of Your Body and Finding Your Way When You are Lost does not provide the necessary direction she needs to survive life on the Calle. Even with the handbook’s guidance, Rory still must face the fact that she is in a troop all her own. With intelligence, wit, and brassiness, she is able to navigate an escape route when she finds herself on her own.
This is a book unlike any I have ever read. The brevity of some chapters hit the mark dead on. The complexity of the characters are so well developed that I swear that I definitely know these people by the time I finished the book.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Before the Poison

Chris Lowndes is a former Yorkshire native who has retuned to the Dales.  In California, he made a good living writing music for movies, but now needs some time away to recover from his wife's death and work on a personal composition.  He buys sight unseen a large rambling mansion where he senses some ghostly presence.  When he is told the murder of a former landowner by his beautiful young wife occured in the house fiftty years earlier, he becomes intrigued.   Grace Fox was found guilty and was subsequently hanged of the murder of her husband, Dr. Ernest Fox.  Evidence was circumstantial, but she was deemed a wanton woman because of an affair.  Chris feels a need to find out the truth about the murder and begins asking questions of his new friends and neighbors.
This is a lovely and charming book, part mystery and part historical novel.  At the beginning of each chapter is a page from Grace's diary kept during World War II.  She was a Queen Alexandra nurse and traveled with the soldiers during the war.  Did this have anything to do with the murder of her husband?  This novel is moving and you can find yourself  very involved with the characters.
Peter Robinson usually writes the Inspector Alan Banks mystery.  This is a very welcome stand alone novel.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

THE LOST YEARS by Mary Higgins Clark

  In The Lost Years, Mary Higgins Clark, America's Queen of Suspense, has written her most astonishing novel to date.
At its center is a discovery that, if authenticated, may be the most revered document in human history--"the holiest of the holy"-- and certainly the most coveted and valuable object in the world.
  Biblical scholar Jonathan Lyons believes he has found the rarest of parchments, a letter that may have been written by Jesus Christ.  Stolen from the Vatican Library in the 1500s, the letter was assumed to be lost forever.
  Now, under the promise of secrecy, Jonathan is able to confirm his findings with several other experts.  But he also confides in a family friend his suspicion that someone he once trusted wants to sell the parchment and cash in.
  Within days Jonathan is found shot to death in his study. At the same time, his wife, Kathleen who is suffering from Alzheimer's, is found hiding in the study closet, incoherent and clutching the murder weapon.  Even in her dementia, Kathleen has known that her husband was carrying on a long-term affair.  Did Kathleen kill her husband in a jealous rage, as the police contend?  Or is his death tied to the larger question: Who has possession of the priceless parchment that has now gone missing?
  It is up their daughter, twenty-eight-year-old Mariah, to clear her mother of murder charges and unravel the real mystery behind her father's death.  Mary Higgins Clark's The Lost Years is at once a breathless murder mystery and a hunt for what may be the most precious religious and archaeological treasure of all time.

Adult Fiction, Mary Higgins Clark, Suspense

Monday, April 30, 2012

Thunder and Rain by Charles Martin

Third generation Texas Ranger Tyler Steele is the last of a dying breed - a modern day cowboy living in a world that doesn't quite understand his clear view of right and wrong and instinct to defend those who can't defend themselves.  Despite his strong moral compass, Tyler has trouble seeing his greatest weakness.  His hard outer shell, the one essential to his work, made him incapable of forging the emotional connection his wife Andie so desperately needed.

Now retired, rising their son Brodie on his own, and in risk of losing his ranch, Ty doesn't know how to rebuild from the rubble of his life.  The answer comes in the form of Samantha and her daughter, Hope.  On the run from an abusive ex who has the resources and the determination to hunt them down, thy are in danger, desperate, and alone.  Though it's no longer his job, Ty knows he can help - protecting the innocent is what he does best.  But it may cost him more than he's ready to pay to let the pair into his life.  Meanwhile, the man who ended Ty's career and almost ended his life, if up for parole and looking to finish what he started.

As his relationship with Sam and Hope unfolds, Ty realizes he must confront his weakness if he wants to protect them and, ultimately, offer the real strength they need.

Monday, April 23, 2012

A Day and a Life

Booklist magazine begins its review of Carol Anshaw's Carry the One with this sentence: "Words used to praise Anshaw's earlier novels (Seven Moves, 1996; Lucky in the Corner, 2002), witty, warm, intimate, poignant, apply equally well to her most compelling book yet, a wholly seductive tale of siblings, addiction, conviction, and genius." I'm not sure about the word "seductive," but all the other adjectives definitely apply. The book starts out with a wedding, Carmen's and Matt's. It's an eclectic and unusual group. At the wedding, Carmen's sister Alice, an artist, meets and falls in love with Matt's sister Maude, a model. Carmen's brother Nick, who comes dressed in a gown, brings his new girlfriend and fellow drug user Olivia, who comes dressed in a tux. Carmen's friend Jean brings her married boyfriend and folk singer Tom.They all end up leaving the wedding together that evening, crammed in Olivia's car. Olivia and Nick are as high as kites, and the others are all in various states of inebriation or tipsiness. A young girl walking down the road is hit and killed. From this moment on, these people are forever linked by this tragic event. The "one that must be carried" when the Kenney siblings add themselves up is the girl. They all feel different levels of guilt and pain, and the results are evident in the lives they end up leading. Nick takes the most obvious downward spiral. He is a brilliant physicist but can't seem to stay sober. Alice becomes famous for her painting; she produces a collection of paintings of the girl who died, wearing the clothes she had on that fateful night, but reset in different phases of her future life that she will never experience .This is an exceptionally written, gentle story about the ways we can and cannot forgive ourselves and others.

Saturday, April 14, 2012


Having completed a film documentary director, Justine Nolan, returns to the Connecticut family home. Her mother, Deborah, in China working a business deal, directs Julene to open her mail. Justine opens a letter with no return address postmarked Istanbul. Anita Lowe, their Gran' s friend, sent this note to Deborah's saying her mother is heartbroken and needs to end their estrangement for Gran turns eighty and is and in poor health. Justine is stunned to learn that Gran is alive for her mother told she and her brother, Richard, that their Gran had died in a plane crash. They had grieved their loss ever since.

The brother and sister decide to find Gran and Justine goes to Istanbul to look for Gran on the pretense that she is doing a documentary of the city. Their neighbor and good friend, Joanne, arranges for Justine to meet her friend, Professor Ifrit Ozgonal in Turkey. Even with the help of Ifrit, Justine cannot find Gran. While going on a boat ride touring the city, Jestine sees her Gran in her camera lens. She rushes past everyone including Gran's best friend Anita and her grandson to hug her Gran. Both are thrilled. Justine tells Gran, that her mother Deborah, told she and Richard that Gran had died. Besides such a great family story, this book written by Barbara Taylor Bradford, also gives insight into Berlin during WW II and a wonderful tour of modernday Istanbul. Readers will enjoy learning Gran's final solution to their family problem that turned Deborah against her.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos

Living in Norvelt may be a dead end in 1962, but it is never boring in Jack Gantos's 2012 Newbery Award winning novel! Twelve-year-old Jack Gantos has been grounded for various offenses and his only ticket 'out of jail' is to help arthritic Miss Volker type up the obituaries for the dying pioneers of Norvelt. His punishment for the summer is to dig a bomb shelter in the backyard, and the time he's allowed to escape to help Miss Volker becomes a welcome reprieve from the back-breaking work. In this task he discovers the history of the town of Norvelt and of its oldest residents. Historic Norvelt was a community designed by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt following the Great Depression to offer its residents good affordable housing in this experimental utopian town. But by the sixties, society has moved on and so have many of the businesses and residents. The remaining residents are colorful, wacky, and often hilarious; even Jack's dad, who is determined to escape Norvelt in a salvaged airplane he is rebuilding in the garage and is constantly feuding with Jack's mother, who refuses to leave her hometown. Young Jack's adventures lead him to unusual chores involving the newly dead, molten wax, the Hell's Angels, and countless bloody noses. This is a funny mix of true circumstances and wildly crazy fictional antics!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

"Thriller" is an understatement!

Wow! That's my review. Wow! I don't really need to say more. However, I will add that this book is one of those that makes you stay up later than you should because you just have to read the next chapter. Yes it is about the plague, and rats and fleas, but you also get an interesting glimpse of a part of WW2 history you might be totally unaware of-Japanese biological warfare and human testing. That's what I love- a fiction book that holds your attention and is educational at the same time.

You won't be disappointed when you read, Plague Maker by Tim Downs. I promise you, the characters are endearing, believable, and the writing is superb. Would make a great motion picture.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Paper Angels

Billy Coffey's main character in Paper Angels is Andy Sommerville, a rascally middle-aged gent you will easily take a likin' to. We learn Andy's story of losing his parents when he was a young boy and that he had some other losses as well. And something else - Andy doesn't tell other people - that he has an angel, the Old Man he calls him, who has been there for him and helped him in learning life's lessons. But the Old Man has let him down and all but left, and Andy is struggling dealing with that.

The story begins when we meet Andy in the hospital, the victim of a senseless crime. With the guidance of Elizabeth, Andy takes a review of his life, being prompted by objects he has kept for years in a special box. We get to enjoy the stories he unravels for Elizabeth and sit with him as he struggles to discover the meaning of his own existance. We all are pretty much empty when we have no clue what we are here for and Andy is no different.

If you aren't interested yet, I'll tell you that one reviewer likens Paper Angels to It's A Wonderful Life, Scrooge and The Shack. I'd have to agree! And, besides, you will be happy to meet Andy Sommerville and discover this world is not all solid!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Lost Saints of Tennessee

The Lost Saints of Tennessee by Amy Franklin-Willis

In 1975, Zeke loses his twin brother, Carter, in a mysterious drowning accident. Now, a decade later, Zeke Cooper decides to leave his hometown with its traitorous memories behind
him. Loading his dead brother’s dog, Tucker, a battered copy of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and a small arsenal of pain pills in his truck, he heads towards Virginia.

His plans: to administer the pills to himself and Tucker and be done with his grieving. His botched attempt at suicide fails when he heaves his own deathly concoction into the toilet and with a change of heart, makes a frantic rescue call to the nearest
vet. Tucker survives and the two continue their excursion and arrive in Virginia, where they are welcomed with open arms by Zeke’s cousins, Georgia and Oz.

There on the apple farm, Zeke is able to mull over his life and come to terms with his anger towards his mother, Lillian, recently diagnosed with cancer, and his grief for Carter.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Lone Wolf by Jodi Picoult

Sometimes survival means sacrifice

In the wild, when a wolf knows its time is over, when it knows it is of no more use to its pack, it may sometimes choose to slip away. Dying apart from its family, it stays proud and true to its nature. Humans aren't so lucky,

Luke Warren has spent his life researching wolves. He has written about them, studied their habits intensively, and even lived with them for extended periods of time. In many ways, Luke understands wolf dynamics better than those of his own family. His wife, Georgie, has left him, finally giving up on their lonely marriage. His son, Edward, twenty-four, fled six years ago, leaving behind a shattered relationship with his father. Edward understands that some things cannot be fixed, though memories of his domineering father still inflict pain. Then comes the frantic phone call: Luke has been gravely injured in a car accident with Edward's younger sister, Cara.

Suddenly everything changes: Edward must return home to face the father he walked out on at age eighteen. He and Cara have to decide their father's fate together. How can any family member make such a decision in the face of guilt, pain, or both?

Lone Wolf brilliantly decribes the nature of a family; the love, protection, and strength it can offer-and the price we might have to pay for those gifts. What happens when the hope that should sustain a family is the very thing tearing it apart?

With a life hanging in the balance....a family torn apart, the author Jodi Picoult tells an unforgettable story about family secrets, love, and letting go.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Bleed for me.

Joseph O' Loughlin is a psychologist who first appeared in the Michael Robotham book "Suspect". O'Loughlin has his own personal problems to deal with mainly Parkinson's disease, a rebellious daughter and an estranged wife whom he still loves. When one of his daughter's friends is found dripping in blood on the estranged wife's doorstep, she calls Joe in to help. The question which must be resolved is whether she killed her father. Thus begins a great psychological investigative story that keeps you turning pages. As a psychologist, Joe is equipped to understand the behaviors and "grooming techniques" of pedophiles. While he is rushing to prove Sienna innocent of murder, he is also trying to discover who has taken her innocence and is using her. Of course he must call his old friend Victor Ruiz for help.
It is not necessary to start with the first book, but doing so would allow you to see how his marriage deteriorates and his friendship with Ruiz develops. Joe is the kind of psychologist you would like to have on your side.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Here Lies the Librarian by Richard Peck

Had so much fun reading this book. Set in a rural central Indiana small town in 1914, it tells the story of a parent-less young teenage girl and her older brother who are trying to make a go of it as auto mechanics. Love the eccentric characters, the homespun humor and the laugh-outloud scenes such as a tornado ripping up a cemetery, a hilarious library board meeting, and a rip-roaring car race at the county fair.
Also enjoyed all the local references, including Brownsburg, Indianapolis, and the Wabash River. There a lots of great and funny lines in this book, but my favorite was the shout-out to librarians: "Put two librarians' heads together, and mountains move."

Monday, February 06, 2012

Growing Up in Zanesville

Jo Ann Beard must have kept a detailed diary as a teen. Otherwise, how would she be able to describe so clearly how it feels to be in junior high school? In Zanesville is written in the first person, with the narrator being a teen-aged girl growing up with an alcoholic father and an angry mother in small town Illinois. Despite the trying circumstances, there is a lot of humor in this book. The first chapter, for example, begins with the narrator and her best friend babysitting a wild group of kids who set the house on fire. A burning house is understandably not funny, but the girls' response to it is. They get all the kids out, all the pets out, and then debate which of their mothers they should call."Forget fathers, forget teachers: our mothers are the ones with the answers, the only people who know something about everything, although it's true that the answers are never that great and that both mothers are incredibly bossy and both have at least one disturbing trait." When they finally do decide on which mother to call, they promptly get to arguing with each other about how much smoke there actually is in the house. All this before anyone thinks to dial 9-1-1! The interplay between the narrator (we never learn her name) and her friend Felicia is priceless. My only complaint about this book: it ended and I really didn't want it to.

Monday, January 30, 2012


The Flight of Gemma Hardy takes place in post WW II Scotland. Gemma, the child of a Scottish mother and Icelandic father, was born in Edinburgh and raised to age 3 in Iceland. Both her mother and father died, and she was taken to Scotland to live with her uncle and family. The aunt immediately takes a dislike to Gemma. After her uncle dies, her aunt sends Gemma to a boarding school (the Claypool School), and Gemma becomes a student/working girl (slave). She barely had time to be educated and had the simplest things denied her. The school eventually goes bankrupt, and Gemma secures a job in Orkney Islands, finding a new life among decent people as a tutor to Mr. Sinclair's niece. She falls in love when she is 18 with a man 41. Gemma later leaves Mr. Sinclair's employ and finds other jobs and experiences many difficult situations. Gemma longs to return to her home, Iceland, and later travels there having a nice reunion with some surviving family members. It was hard to believe that a 10-year old girl would be sent out into the world with no support system of family and be treated so cruelly. This story is one of passion, betrayal, redemption, discovery of a life a very young girl never dreamed of as she grew into adulthood.

Monday, January 16, 2012

With a Name Like Love by Tess Hilmo

Olivene "Ollie" Love is thirteen years old and tired of living on the road. Her father, Rev. Everlasting Love, travels from one poor town to another in search of saving another lost soul. Ollie's four sisters and mother follow him in a small travel trailer, faithfully passing out fliers, putting up tents and recruiting people to attend the evening services. Ollie would love to attend school and stay long enough in a town to make friends. Her father's three day rule has always made that impossible. Until the hot summer in 1957 when the Love family pull into Binder, Arkansas. There Ollie meets Jimmy Koppel, whose mother, Virginia, is in jail for murdering his no-count, drunk father. Jimmy and Ollie become convinced that she is innocent, even though she has signed a confession admitting to the crime. But, can Ollie and Jimmy find the real murderer? Jimmy says, "You got a phone book? That'd be your list of suspects." Ollie and Jimmy search for clues, come up against many people in Binder who are bent of judging and jailing Virginia without a trial. Rev. Love joins them in their quest to find the true murderer. Will he break his three-day rule and give Ollie the chance to solve the mystery and settle down in this town? Tess Hilmo has written a warm story about a close-knit family who live simply and struggle to make their world a better place, one soul at a time. For readers age 10-14.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Compelled by Love

By Heidi Baker. Heidi and her husband, Roland, are missionaries in Mozambique, one of the poorest nations in the world. Compelled By Love is their story of learning to do the Beatitudes - daily - always. The Beatitudes, Roland rightly tells us, is the most watered down of the scriptures because we think they are impossible to meet. Heidi shows us different.

The Bakers are not self-righteous people, but humble. Why humble? Because they learned this kind of life from the very poor they take in, feed and love. They learned it from getting low, sitting in the gutter with them, going to the dumps where the desperate scavage for whatever they may find. And God shows up in these low places.

This book, Heidi says, was written for the church in the West, however, because we mistakenly think we are so rich. She says this: "You see, where I live, (Mozambique) the poor know they are poor; they know thay are sick and hurting; and so they come and give their lives to Jesus by the hundreds every week around the country. But in your nation, (the West) your poor do not know they are poor, and your sick do not really know thay are sick unless they are dying of a disease and no one can help them. They look confident, and they appear as if they are together. But maybe they are not."

Do you want to make difference in your world, here in the West? Heidi will show you it is that smile, that hug, that loving the one in front of you, that we all can do if we but will, that transforms lives. But read the book; Heidi's story is amazing.