Monday, December 23, 2013

Mixed Media Masterpieces with Jenny & Aaron by Jenny Heid and Aaron Nieradka

Mixed media is becoming a household phrase amongst art amateurs;  especially with the emergence of scrap booking and art journals. And I found that Heid and Nieradka's book, Mixed Media Masterpieces, didn't disappoint in regards to various techniques and supply listings in which to create these art pieces.

As you peruse each chapter, you'll soon find yourself delving into each of the twelve projects that this book contains; complete with photo aids and step-by-step, easily understandable instructions. From clay sculptures to heirloom vintage photo collages. Beautiful creations for the budding artist.

Thursday, December 19, 2013


Sylvie's parents are called out in the middle of the night by someone needing help.  They take Sylvie with them to the church, leaving her in the car.  They are brutally murdered.  Who called them and who killed them?  And why?  The information is hidden in the deep recesses of Sylvie's mind.  It will take over a year for her to piece together this puzzle.

Meanwhile she is forced to live with her tough older sister, Rose, in the old Tudor house where she was raised.  This house is full of secrets.  Did her parents really help "haunted souls"  as they claimed?  Why was her sister sent away to a special boarding school?  Is the basement haunted and why do they keep a doll locked in a cage?

As Sylvia mulls over the past year, she is forced to ask herself "Do I believe in the paranormal"?  "Do I believe in my parent's teachings?"  Coming to terms with what she believes, is a major step in figuring out the puzzle of her parents' murder and her sister's possible involvement.

This is a very atmospheric novel.  Tudor house, haunted basement, sister with secrets and there is always the doll locked in the cage!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

THE FOUR DOORS by Richard Paul Evans

   Richard Paul Evans has written a guide to joy, freedom, and a meaningful life.  The book was inspired by a talk he gave on the spur of the moment, and over the course of ten years, it had evolved into a message he has shared with successful business people, students, and even addicts and prisoners.
    His book includes stories his readers have told him, stories about great achievers who overcame hardships, and stories about his own struggle growing up in a large family with financial difficulties and a suicidal mother, and about Richard's diagnosis of Tourette's Syndrome later in life.
    Evans believes that we all want to know the meaning of our lives.  In The Four Doors, he shows how even the most quiet life can be full of purpose and joy, if we choose to take the first step over the threshold.
     Evans inspiring stories are woven through his identification and careful explanation of the four doors to a more fulfilling life:

                                                 1. Believe there's a reason you were born
                                                 2. Free yourself from limitation
                                                 3. Magnify your life
                                                 4. Develop a love-centered map

     Most people are hungry for inspiration; they love his novels because his characters are also searching for meaning and understanding.

Hello goodbye: a novel

by Emily Chenoweth

Forty-something Helen Hansen returns home from a brisk winter run, a nagging headache trailing her every move. Thinking she needs eye glasses, she makes a mental note to make an appointment for an exam and then … everything goes black. Several days later, Helen wakes in the hospital with her husband, Elliott, leaning over her bed. From the look on his face, she knows that the reason for her being here is not a simple one and from that point on, her life is forever changed.

Helen has an inoperable brain tumor. The doctors have told Elliott that the chemo is simply buying time but he can’t bear to tell Helen, an eternal optimist, that she won’t be healed.  So as a secret ‘last hurrah’ Elliott plans a week-long anniversary party at to a Northern New Hampshire resort where they vacation with their 19 year-old daughter, Abby and a lifetime of Helen and Elliott’s friends. In a single week Helen, Elliott and Abby struggle to come to terms with their individual and collective futures while they confront issues from their past.
Chenoweth expertly crafts a life story that is viewed through a window of a single week. It is a story that is both a beginning and also a gentle farewell. As we see Helen slowly slip away, we see Abby transform into a person of her own and a tribute to her mother’s legacy.  

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

I Hunt Killers

I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

As the son of the country's most prolific and terrifying serial killer, Jasper Dent has a lot more to deal with than your average teenage boy. Since he was a young boy, his father has trained him to follow in his path and become the greatest serial killer ever, but this is not what Jasper has planned for himself.
After his father's eventual arrest, Jasper has been living with his crazy, senile grandmother and coming to terms with what his has experienced. He feels like he is destined to become a murderer and he is determined to make a better life for himself. 
Until one day when a new murderer comes to town and begins a murderous spree whose crimes are exactly like his father's in every way, even down to the initials of the victims. Jasper begins to hunt down this serial killer using the knowledge he gained being raised by the killer who the new murderer is imitating. Will he become to involved with the case? Will he put himself in harms way by messing with a brutal murderer? 

This is book one in the I Hunt Killers Trilogy. It is recommended for fans of young adult fiction and fans of murder mysteries.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Curiouser and Curiouser

Time travel has long been a popular device used in fantasy and even some romance tales. Stephen Kiernan's debut novel, The Curiosity, takes a bit different approach. The Goodreads description of this book begins, "Michael Crichton meets The Time Traveler's Wife..." That is a perfect nutshell description of this book! The story involves a scientific expedition to the Arctic to probe for organic life within large ice masses. The project is funded by a wealthy pseudo-scientist who sees himself as something of a modern day Dr. Frankenstein, aiming to "regenerate" life from death, usually using small creatures, such as shrimp. When the team makes a totally unexpected discovery in the ice--a frozen man--the story takes a crazy turn and is dubbed The Lazarus Project. A media firestorm ensues, and the world is watching as Jeremiah Rice, a man who fell in the ice and drowned in 1906, is regenerated into a modern world. Dr. Kate Philo, a supervising scientist on the team, begins to wonder about the ethical quagmire they've embarked upon and at the same time becomes personally involved with the gentle Jeremiah. This is a fascinating and wholly original premise for a story, and it will sweep you right into the flow and make you think about the nature and sometimes competing needs of life and science. Is Jeremiah a scientific subject that demands examination, or a living being who deserves privacy? Whatever you decide, he is definitely a curiosity.

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Merciful Scar

By Rebecca St. James & Nancy Rue.

Cutting, or self-injury, a not so uncommon means today used to cope with one's gnawing inner emotional pain, is the topic of this precious fictional novel.  In St. James', The Merciful Scar, you will learn about the pain and the method of cutters through one young woman who seeks relief from an incident that happened to her family in her early teens.

Kirsten Peterson is that woman. She is a young grad student who hopes to marry a long time boyfriend. That dream comes to a halt and Kirsten's world tumbles down. She responds in the manner she is used to - she cuts. She self-injures. However, this time it is different because this time Kirsten's cutting ends her up in a psych ward. From there she follows through on a suggestion to go to a Montana working ranch to get the much needed help she knows she needs.  Frankie, an ex-nun, runs the ranch and cares for the hurting while providing a place for women such as Kirsten to face their hurtful memories and hopefully find an eventual healing.  Also at this ranch are Emma and Andy, both with their own repressed memories and frozen lives. You will be cheering for each wounded character in this book.

A perfect book for those also driven to cut or those wanting to understand those who cut. For sure this book is a page turner and one of the best reads on my book list for some time!

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Funeral Dress by Susan Gregg Gilmore

 Emmalee Bullard has lead a very impoverished existence throughout her young life and attempting to raise a baby at the age of 16 isn't making her situation any easier. Residing in the Appalachians during the 70s was simply difficult, so when she manages to get hired on at the Tennewa Shirt Factory and is befriended by a factory worker named  Leona, she feels hopeful that her life might be moving in a more positive direction.

After the birth of Emmalee's baby, Leona encourages both young mother and child to move in with her and her husband, Curtis. Unfortunately, the day before Emmalee and her infant are to make the move, the kind couple are involved and killed in a tragic car accident. In the days that follow, a grieving Emmalee sews a lovely burying dress for Leona but unfortunately,  more tragedy occurs.

Is Emmalee capable of raising a child on her own without the support of her community?


Thursday, November 07, 2013

The Police

In the last Harry Hole novel, he was shot in the head and left for dead by his girlfriend's son.  So is he alive in this new mystery?  For much of the book, we don't know and if I tell you it will spoil the entire book.  The serial murders in the book seem unsolvable.   Policemen are being lured to the scene of a previously unsolved murder and then murdered themselves in the same manner.  No clues or fibers are left behind. No one knows who will be next.   Hole's fellow detectives Beate Lonn, Stale Aune and Katrine Bratt are in charge of solving the crime.  Can they set a trap for the killer?  Is the killer one of their own?  Could it be the new Chief of Police, Mikael Bellman? 
Nesbo leads us on wild goose chases and down dead end streets.  There are several red herrings.  But this is a book for those of us who love Harry Hole!  Unfortunately I cannot tell you more, you must read the book.  Nesbo's other characters are interesting and well developed.  The villains are sexually perverted and or insane.  And the ending leaves us with a taste of what is to come in the next book.

Sabrina, the college girl who was an Olympic-bound runner in high school, lives with shattered dreams due to an on going illness.  She keeps her hurts to herself not wanting pity from anyone but at the same time hadn't really dealt with the changes this has brought in her life.  She speaks of her faith in God, yet she can't seem to establish trust in Him or in people in general.

Brandy, the delinquent comes from a fractured home and doesn't know the meaning of love.  She's bounced around without feeling the security and care of family until recently when her grandmother takes her into her home. Her wild nature gives no respect, even to her grandmother, as she makes poor choices in friends and attitude. 

Running is the common thread that forces the two girls together, however, there is tension and dislike between them.  Sabrina, who can no longer compete as a runner, is asked to coach Brandy, who is flippant regarding her ability to achieve what Sabrina wanted so badly.  If Sabrina refuses this request of the judge, Brandy will find herself in Juvenile detention for a while.  

I think this is a great book for anyone who is dealing with past hurts.   I love the way Kathryn Cushman put the girls together to help both of them deal with their past and future.

THE SILVER STAR by Jeannette Walls

It is 1970 in a small town in California. “Bean” Holladay is twelve and her sister, Liz, is fifteen when their artistic mother, Charlotte, a woman who “found something wrong with every place she ever lived,” takes off to find herself, leaving her girls enough money to last a month or two. When Bean returns from school one day and sees a police car outside the house, she and Liz decide to take the bus to Virginia, where their Uncle Tinsley lives in the decaying mansion that’s been in Charlotte’s family for generations.

The Holladays used to own the town's cotton mill, but all that's left is the decaying mansion where Charlotte's widowed brother still lives. Less cutesy eccentric than he first seems, Tinsley gives the girls the security they have missed. Bean soon discovers who her father was, and hears many stories about why their mother left Virginia in the first place. Because money is tight, Liz and Bean start babysitting and doing office work for Jerry Maddox, foreman of the mill in town—a big man who bullies his workers, his tenants, his children, and his wife. Bean adores her whip-smart older sister—inventor of word games, reader of Edgar Allan Poe, nonconformist. But when school starts in the fall, it’s Bean who easily adjusts and makes friends, and Liz who becomes increasingly withdrawn. And then something happens to Liz.

Jeannette Walls, has written a deeply moving novel about triumph over adversity and about people who find a way to love each other.

After Her: a novel

After their parents divorce, Rachel and Patty Toricelli live with their reclusive mother who spends her days reading and chain-smoking in her bedroom. Dad is a devoted but often absent father whose demanding job as detective for the San Francisco Police Department leaves little time for ‘his girls’ but the sisters continue to hang onto the hope that their handsome father will pay them an intermittent visit. As most women, they adore him.

Devoid of parental guidance, the girls become skilled at creating diversions and fending for themselves. The story begins when residents of Marin County, especially those in the foothills of Mount Tamalpais State Park, find themselves living in a shadow of fear cast by the recent murders of young girls whose bodies have been found on the mountain trails. The search and the mounting pressure to find the serial killer falls heavily on Detective Anthony Toricelli. In a single summer, the girls lose access to their two most treasured possessions: their mountain playground and the sporadic visits of their father.
To fill the void of the long and lonely summer Patty, a gangly eleven-year-old, becomes obsessed with basketball and befriends a mysterious neighbor who conveniently owns a dog, something Patty’s mother would never allow her to have. Rachel, entering eighth grade and consumed with fears of her stunted sexual development, experiences a huge leap in her social status when the handsome and compelling Detective Toricelli makes regular appearances on the local news. When the ‘popular’ girls at school make the connection between Rachel and her father, Rachel is sucked into their tight circle and finds herself in compromising situations.
The story is not a typical murder mystery thriller; Maynard spares readers the graphic details of the murders. Instead she creates a story that is part coming of age, part romance and part mystery. This is the third Joyce Maynard book I have read and I find her never to cheat on her characters – they are always richly detailed and her storytelling the same.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

A Sobering Visit to North Korea

The Orphan Master's Son, by Adam Johnson. Whew. This book is incredible. Well deserving of the Pulitzer it earned. It is not an easy book to read, for several reasons. The subject matter of life in North Korea is sobering and shocking. The length of the book may scare away some readers. And the narrative jumps back and forth in time, so it takes some effort to keep it all straight. I listened to it on audio, which was very satisfying, because the narration was excellent and used different voices for the various narratives. But I still had a little trouble following the story at times. I can't say enough, however, about the depth and beauty of the author's writing, even when writing about horrific things. The main character grows over the course of the book to become someone honorable, loving, and courageous. This is one of the best books I've ever read, but I'll be honest. I didn't feel that way in the beginning. Give it a chance, keep reading, and you'll be glad you did. It is available at the Delphi Public Library in print, audio, and ebook format.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Visitation Street

Ivy Pochoda has assembled a unique and diverse cast of characters in the unique setting of Brooklyn's Red Hook neighborhood for her outstanding Visitation Street, which was hand-picked by author Dennis Lehane to be the first book under his new imprint. Many of us think of Brooklyn as that idyllic neighborhood across the river from Manhattan filled with expensive brownstones and trendy shops and restaurants. But there's more to Brooklyn than meets the eye. Red Hook is filled with Italian Americans, African Americans, homeless folks, poverty, restless teenagers, and hard-working people. One of Red Hook's teenage girls goes missing and another nearly drowns after taking a raft out on the water after dark one hot summer night. Visitation Street is a mystery of what happened to June, but, more importantly, a study of how the community reacts to this tragedy. The story is told from many points of view, so gives you a rich, panoramic picture of a gritty and tough community. Highly recommended.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


"The Longest Ride" by Nicholas Sparks tells a remarkable story of two couples, one old and one young whose lives intersect in surprising ways.

Ira Levinson, 90 years old, slides off the road becoming injured and barely conscious.  His wife, Ruth, who died several years ago, returns to him in blurry images trying to keep him alert until he can become rescued.  They reminisce over the beautiful paintings of now famous artists they collected over the years.  Luke, the young sexy, good looking competitive bull rider who works on his mother's small ranch, meets a beautiful college student, Sophia Danko, studying art history, at a cowboy style barn dance.  The story winds through their struggles of staying together since they have very little in common.  Their relationship slowly develops into a very special romance. 

This romantic story is described with an old-fashioned tenderness and devotion.  Ira and Ruth, Sophia and Luke have little in common but their lives all intertwine in an extraordinary journal.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Mothers and Daughters

Her Mother's Hope, by Francine Rivers.  This is the first of a two-book saga that you won't be able to put down.  Based on her own mother's and grandmother's stories, Francine writes an enthralling story of the frictions and misunderstandings between a mother and her daughter. You'll love the exposure to history as well as the deep and troubling stories of each woman who you will come to know so well. Book one, Her Mother's Hope, begins with Marta, a young girl at the turn of the century, whose cruel, controlling, abusive father, and submissive, quiet mother form her character as well as her great determination to survive. Marta leaves home, spreads her wings and flies, as her mother encouraged her to do. She makes her own way, falls in love and has children. Having learned that only the strong survive, Marta raises one of her three children with more tough love than the others, fearful that this one, Hildemara Rose, won't make it if she doesn't do just that.  You will hear Hildemara's story too, from her perspective. You will cry for them both - mainly because of the wall between them.  This is a book about "why we are like we are" and forgiveness.  Her Daughter's Dream is the second book, which continues on to Hildemara's story and her daughter's!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Dark Life by Kat Falls

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live underwater? In this young adult book with a dystopian future, dry land is a rarity and some people have settled into life in the ocean. Ty, our main character, has lived his entire life in the ocean and was the first baby born under the
sea. He meets a girl who lives on land, referred to as a "topsider", named Gemma and they form a unique relationship. Gemma is looking for her brother who may be lost in the ocean somewhere. This story is packed with action and adventure and has a western feel to it between there being pioneers, who are settling into the ocean life, and the bad guys who Ty and Gemma have to battle that are the outlaws of the sea.
I enjoyed this book because of the setting and thinking this could really become a future if global warming took over and the oceans rose. The author gives us everything with adventure, action, fighting, and romance. If you enjoy any of these kinds of books, you will enjoy Dark Life.
This book has a sequel titled Rip Tide, which is equally as good.

Monday, October 07, 2013

Bodies of Water by T. Greenwood

A beautiful and haunting story of forbidden love set in the 1960s, Bodies of Water by T. Greenwood is a novel that I just couldn't put down.

Billie Valentine is a thirty-something housewife living in a suburb of Massachusetts with her husband and two adopted daughters. Her marriage is lacking the spark that love should bring to a relationship and her only true enjoyment revolves around summers spent on a lake in Vermont. There she can relax with her children and be away from the critical, alcoholic eye of her husband, Frankie.

When new neighbors move in next door, Billie and the girls are thrilled. Ted and Eva Wilson and their growing family soon twine themselves into the lives of the Valentines and strong friendships are forged. Billie and  Eva spend their free time together while husbands are at work and children are at school and soon the two women realize that what they really share is true love.

What happens when their secret is revealed?

Thursday, October 03, 2013

A quick read and a little nostalgia

Return to Oakpine

by Ron Carlson

Our hometown is either a place we never want to leave, can’t determine HOW to leave or a place we NEVER plan to return. For the current and former residents of fictional Oakpine, Wyoming, all of the above apply.  

Some thirty odd years after their high school graduation and the life changing events of that day, former 1960s garage-band members and high school classmates converge on Oakpine. The homecoming and reunion plot proves to be a great mechanism for building a story that readers who are post high-school will identify - and Carlson has created some very likeable characters to tell this story.

There is Frank who runs a popular bar in Oakpine and Craig who operates a hardware store and construction company in the town that has changed little since their high school days. There is Mason who has spent his adult life practicing law in Denver; his only outdoor experience in all those years being his daily walk between the parking-garage and his office.  And then there is Jimmy who left Oakpine on a bus the day he graduated high school, went to NYC, and now as a well-known novelist, comes home with AIDS, his body only a whisper of what it was thirty years before.  

Their garage band, ‘Life on Earth’, repertoire consisted of only nine songs, but during a few short months of their senior year, they became local rock legends. And when assembled back in Oakpine so many years later, they reunite and the music and the accompanied memories act as a salve that heals some of the long ago wounds and unfinished explanations.

Carlson creates a clever parallel to his reunion theme with the character Larry, Craig’s son who is currently in his senior year of high school and feeling the pull of the world outside of Oakpine. Through Larry, Carlson paints a perfect picture of the awkwardness, the uncertainty and the change that defines high school life.

In the end Carlson serves up a delicate reminder that sentiment and appreciation of our hometown often improves with time.

Monday, September 30, 2013

LIFE CODE by Dr. Phil McGraw

     Life Code written by Dr. Phil McGraw is a very informative view of the new rules for winning in the real world because the world we live in has changed.  Dr. McGraw tells you about the ugly truth about the users, abusers, and overall "bad guys" we all have in our lives.  You'll gain incredible insight into these negative people, which he refers to as Baiters (Backstabbers, Abusers, Imposters, Takers, Exploiters, Reckless), and you'll gain tools to protect yourself from their assaults.

    Dr. Phil discusses the "Evil Eight", "Secret Playbook," and the "Nefarious 15" tactics used to exploit you and take what is yours mentally, physically, socially and professionally. Life Code then focuses on you and your playbook, which contains the “Sweet 16” tactics for winning in the real world.
   Definitely a good, easy read and an eye opener!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

The League of Delphi     Chris Everheart

It took me a few chapters to get into this book but once I did, I couldn't put it down.
Zach returns to Arcanville ten years after his mom disappeared with him and kept him in hiding.   Arcanville is a wealthy town ruled by a secret league in which his father, now believes to be dead, was vice-president.
Zach is able to get into the library where all the secrets are locked up.  He was downloading the deepest secrets when he hears someone coming into the library.  Upon his quick escape, he is in an accident and ends up in the hospital.  When he wakes up, the dic is missing.
Ever chapter is a cliff hangers, leaving you desperate for the next!  Book two, The Delphi Deception is due out October 2013.    In other reviews this series is compared to The Hunger Games series.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Read a Classic

Carson McCullers wrote her first novel, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, when she was only 23 years old. She became an overnight literary sensation, with such preeminent Southern writers as Tennessee Williams and Richard Wright praising her talent. The book also was chosen by the Modern Library as one of the top 100 works of fiction published in the 20th century. This astonishing debut novel, published in 1940, is a story of life in a small southern mill town in the 1930s, told through the eyes of several people who are longing for something bigger and better in their lives. At the center of the story is John Singer, a deaf-mute man who lives in a boarding house and takes his meals at the local diner. Many people are drawn to him, because of his kind eyes and his manner of truly paying attention to others. One of these is Mick Kelly, the 12-year-old daughter of the household from whom Singer rents a room. Mick has a lot of responsibilities at home, taking care of her younger brothers, but she dreams of being a musician. She even tries to build a violin from an old ukelele. Another is Jake Blount, a loud and boorish drunk who stumbles into town and is befriended by Singer. Jake is passionate about social justice for the oppressed, which tends to get him into trouble. Biff Brannon, the owner of the cafe where Singer eats, lives a lonely life, alienated from his wife and struggling to understand himself and others. Dr. Copeland is a respected black physician in town. Although he is held in high esteem by his fellow black citizens, he is not loved by them or by his family because of his rigid attitudes about how black people should conduct themselves. The characters are linked together in various ways, and the reader becomes a quiet observer of the town and its inhabitants, along with their longings and shortcomings. The book is like a snapshot of the heart of a southern town during a time when people didn't have much money, and relationships between blacks and whites were strained at best. This is the Morning Book Club's selection for September. Feel free to join us for a discussion of The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter on Friday, September 27, at 9 am at the library.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Revenge of a Not-So-Pretty Girl

Revenge of a Not-So-Pretty Girl by Carolita Blythe

At the beginning of Carolita Blythe’s story we are introduced to a young and no so pretty, inner-city girl named Faye. Faye is struggling with her family and her friends who are leading her to a life of crime and in general making her life difficult. A life-changing experience happens at the beginning of the story and gives Faye hope that she can live a better life and be a good person.

After robbing and nearly killing an old lady who used to be a movie star, Faye begins a transformation that will help her take control of her life. After helping the old lady after the robbery, they become close friends and Faye gets a new found confidence she never knew she had. But she still has to figure out how to get away from her controlling, abusive mother and keep her criminal friends far away from her life. How will she deal with these situations? Why does the old lady befriend someone who almost killed her? Find out by picking up Revenge of a Not-So-Pretty Girl by Carolita Blythe at the library today!

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Damascus Countdown

Joel Rosenberg, who is well known for political thrillers that lean toward the prophetic, does it again by writing another amazing, on-the-edge-of-your-seat fiction that coincides right with what is currently astir in today's international headlines. This is a story about Syria, Iran, America and CIA operative David Shirazi's mission to locate and disable two Iranian nuclear warheads before they are fired.  It's intense and wonderful!  I could only read a portion at a time, it was that intense. It will have you checking out the scriptures about Damascus and put you on ready for what is going to happen next in real life!

Monday, August 26, 2013

ETCHED IN SAND by Regina Calcaterra

Regina Calcaterra's emotionally powerful memoir reveals how she endured a series of foster homes and intermittent homelessness in the shadow of the Hamptons, and how she rose above her past while fighting to keep her brother and three sisters together.

 Regina and her four siblings survived extreme abuse and neglect at the hands of their mentally ill mother. Cookie was a woman who "left behind scorched earth" wherever she went. Unstable, promiscuous and violently abusive, she had five children by five different men. Chaos and instability reigned throughout Calcaterra's childhood. Early on, Cookie left the children with relatives or took them to live with new boyfriends. But as her alcoholism and mental illness worsened, she left them in homeless shelters, trailers, parking lots, run-down apartments or houses and then vanished, often for weeks or months at a time.

To survive, they stole food and clothes. They lied about their mother's whereabouts, as well as the burns, bruises and scratches that appeared on their bodies when she was home. Calcaterra emancipated herself at age 14 and reluctantly went to live with foster parents.  Woven into the narrative is Calcaterra’s search to discover the identity of her birth father, a man who resisted acknowledging that he is her parent; this conflict led to a landmark court decision in the state of Washington over an adult child’s right to an accurate determination of paternity; it also led to a touching reunion with other members of her birth father’s family.

Beautifully written and heartbreakingly honest, Etched in Sand is an unforgettable reminder that regardless of social status, the American dream is still within reach for those who have the desire and the determination to succeed.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Peck has does it again!   Another delightful story that takes place in Indiana. 
Fourteen year old Peewee and her brother, Jake are the main characters.

It is 1914, a time when there were expectation of females, and not one of them revolved around fixing cars.  None the less, that is what Peewee and her brother do to make a living.

A fateful afternoon, all that changes with the arrival of four women who decided that they want to run the public library.  All four are earning their degrees, and they recognize that this town needs them just as much as they need the town.

Changes abound throughout and ultimately a sweet coming of age tale is spun.  Can a functioning library not only change a person but an entire town?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Dying Hours

Because of the freewheeling way, DI Tom Thorne handled his last case, he has been busted back to patrol.  This means working different shifts, wearing a uniform, and taking notes instead of being in charge.  When he is called to the case of an elderly couple's suicide, he suspects murder but cannot put his finger on why.  His superiors on the Murder Squad are eager not to believe him, especially his boss.  In fact they rub his demotion in  at every opportunity.  Of course this spurs Tom on to prove he is right.  He calls upon his former colleagues to help him.  They do so grudgingly, out of loyalty,  not wanting to suffer his fate.  On the home front, he is still living with Helen whom he rescued in the last book and her young son. Of course Tom's inability to share his inner life and work with her leads to squabbles and we hope growth on his part.  As the suicide/murders increase, Tom works increasingly on his own and of course makes decisions that affect the lives of the potential victims.  The last sentence in the book is a cliche, but only understandable if you have read the book.  It definitely sets up one of the storylines for the next book.  Thom Thorne is reminiscent of  Rebus (doesn't drink as much), and Morse (likes country music instead of opera).  All three like to go their own way and deal with the consequences later.

Fifty years later, a beautiful manuscript is shared

In the summer of 1936 James Agee, freshly out of college and a young staff writer at Fortune magazine, was sent to Alabama on an assignment to write a story about the conditions of tenant farmers. Because Agee’s unconventional approach to the story and his raw and realistic description of the deplorable conditions that these cotton farmers endured, Fortune never published the story. In 1941, Agee took his transcripts and the ideas from the Fortune assignment and published Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, a book that rattled journalistic and literary style. James Agee poet, novelist, journalist, film critic, and social activist, would move on to lead an unorthodox, hard-driving life that would result in an early death at the tender age of 46.

Fifty years after the Fortune assignment, Agee’s original manuscript was uncovered and recently published in Cotton Tenants: Three Families. The story is accompanied by the stark and beautiful photographs by Walker Evans, who was on loan from the Resettlement Administration when he collaborated with Agee.

Agee’s writing and Walkers striking images offer a stunning revelation of three families who struggled to eek out a living in the hard scrabble conditions of the South during the Great Depression. Each chapter of the 224 page book addresses an essential component of life; Business, Shelter, Food, Clothing, Work, Picking Season, Education, Leisure, and Health.  The brief chapter titles suggest that Agee’s attempt was to present a very factual account of these farmers. But, what he did was provide facts that read like poetry. I felt myself drawn back into time and place where I could almost smell the scorched black coffee on the stove, feel the threadbare flours sacks that were reinvented into clothing, and feel the finger-numbing and back-breaking job of picking cotton.

This book is beautifully written and if you have even a glimmer of interest in this time period, I am confident that you will love it. In writing of three tenant families, Agee lifts up their lives and salutes them for living it with strength, integrity and humility.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Man in the Woods

What would you do if you had committed a terrible act, but no one knew, and you probably could get away with it without ever having to tell anyone? Many if not most of us would say that we couldn't live with ourselves, and that the guilt would eat away at us. But what if the terrible act you did was originally prompted by a valid reason, and your motives began as good ones? That complicates things a bit, doesn't it? This is the quandary in which character Paul Phillips finds himself in Scott Spencer's book, Man in the Woods. Paul has an encounter in the woods that haunts him from that day forward. He suffers a double burden with his secret: the fear of discovery and the equally disturbing fear of getting away with his crime. Spencer draws us into Paul's quiet life with his lover Kate and her nine-year-old daughter Ruby in what sounds like a lovely home in upstate New York. We like Paul. He seems to be a kind, thoughtful guy. This makes his struggle all the more tragic. Life is messy indeed. (This is the August book club selection for the Morning Book Club. We'll be discussing it on Friday, August 26, at 9 am. Come and join us!)

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Big Brother

Pandora Halfdanarson has had and unusual life.  She grew up with her older brother Edison, much younger sister Solstice and their very famous father, Travis (Halfdanarson) Appaloosa.  Travis was the star of a long- running TV series named "Joint Custody".  The series centers on a dysfunctional family with divorced parents and three children that mirrors the true life of the Haldanarsons almost to a tee.

Edison is a gifted jazz pianist, Solstice is a typical sensitive baby of the family and Pandora is a normal middle child until she fumbles her way into owing a business that makes custom dolls  that has made her independently wealthy.

When older brother Edison needs a place to stay for a couple of months, Pandora is excited because she hasn't seen her brother for several years, but her husband is reluctant.  Imagine Pandora's surprise when she picks Edison up at the airport and learns that he weighs 386 pounds!

Pandora decides she must help her brother because he has no one else in his life.  She takes an apartment with Edison and they both exist on 4 protein powder packets per day.  Read the book to see if Edison looses the weight and gets back to playing jazz, and if Pandora's marriage can survive living away from her reluctant husband.

You'll be surprised by the ending!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Case of the Deadly Desperados by Caroline Lawrence

It's 1862 in the tiny town of Temperance in Wild West Nevada territory.  P.K. Pinkerton feels detective work is in his blood.  He's been told that he is the nephew of the famous train detective, Allan Pinkerton.  But on his 12th birthday he discovers his foster parents murdered and three deadly desperados, Whittlin Walt and his cut-throat gang, are in hot pursuit of P.K.!  Clinging to the top of a stage-coach, he makes it to Virginia City where he will try to escape them.  But why are they after him?  This case has something to do with the  white paper deed his Lakota birth mother left him, which he keeps in his ever-present medicine bag hanging from his neck, along with a $20 gold piece and some items that he keeps to remember his parents.  But hanging on to money, or important deeds to silver mine land,  is next to impossible in Virginia City, where everyone is trying to get rich quick and no one can be trusted.  This is a lesson P.K. quickly learns as he is rescued, conned and robbed by a beautiful "Soiled Dove" named Belle Donne.  Then he is befriended by a Chinese boy who will  lead him to a place of safety if he will give him $500 when he recovers his deed.  After hiding all night in a photographer's studio, he disguises himself as a girl and continues to search for  Belle to try to recover his deed while avoiding Whittlin Walt and his gang.   P.K. is befriended by Sam Clemens, a newspaper reporter new to town in need of a scoop for the morning edition, and many other colorful characters.  But will he get his deed back and notarized before Whittlin Walt finds him?  This book will keep you on the edge of your seat from one twist and turn to another!  There is adventure, mystery and many funny situations in every chapter.
Check out this book in the Teen Room!

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Silent Wife : a Novel by A. S. A. Harrison

Jodi Brett lives a quiet, peaceful existence with her companion of 20 years, Todd Gilbert. Together the two are quite comfortable; one being a psychotherapist and the other working as an independent developer/renovator of properties. But that comfort is soon jarred and set askew when Todd becomes entangled with a friend's coed daughter and a tawdry affair erupts between the two.

Natasha, the coed, becomes pregnant and demands that Todd step up to the plate by leaving Jodi, which pushes the quiet and careful Jodi completely out of her comfort zone.

Taking matters into her own hands, Jodi ventures into a new world portraying the dark side of relationships and how they occasionally spiral into something sinister and unnerving.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

My Story My Song

A delightful book sure to inspire, by Lucimarian Roberts, mother to Good Morning America's Robin Roberts. 

Her Story: Lucimarian, 87, shares her story of growing up in the segregated South, traveling around the world with a military husband, losing much to hurricane Katrina, and the plight of aging and succumbing to declining health. You will appreciate that she shares the wisdom she reaped from her loved mother, the wisdom she taught her own children, and her faith which shines in every facet of her being!

Her Song: As you read you will find how much Lucimarian loves music and singing. Throughout her life special hymns never failed to minister to her loneliness and the difficulties. She shares those spiritual songs along with the stories.

Daughter Robin responds after each chapter and letters from her other children close the book. You will respect and love Lucimarian for her story, her faith, and that positive attitude that overcomes any despair. 

This book is the July 2013 Faith Book Club selection at Delphi Public Library.

Monday, July 15, 2013

LOST by S.J. Bolton

    S.J. Bolton, an award-winning author of five novels, Dead Scare, Now You See Me, Blood Harvest, Awakening, and Sacrifice, writes her most compelling novel to date, in which a fragile police detective and a courageous, lonely eleven-year-old boy must work together to unmask a killer.   11-year-old Barney Roberts knows the killer will strike again soon. The victim will be another boy, just like him. The body will be drained of blood, and left somewhere on a Thames.
     Det. Constable Lacey Flint befriends 11-year-old Barney Roberts, who lives with his father next door to her in South London.
     Four ten-year-old boys have been murdered in London in two months and another is missing. None of the victims has been tortured or assaulted, but all have had their blood almost completely drained.  Barney aches to find his lost mother, who has been missing since he was four, and increasingly fears that his father may be a serial killer who’s slain a number of neighborhood boys his age in recent weeks.
    Lacey Flint colleagues suspect that she might be the killer, she suspects Barney, and Barney suspects his father—and then Barney vanishes. VERDICT Realistic fear, heart-stopping suspense, and jolting plot twists keep one almost frantically turning pages as Bolton grabs us from the beginning and leaves us shaken at the end.

Monday, July 01, 2013

The Fault in Our Stars

The 2013 Carroll County on the Same Page selection is John Green's The Fault in Our Stars. This "young adult" novel has great cross-over appeal for adults and teens alike. It is the story of two teens, Hazel and Augustus, who meet and fall in love. Not my kind of story, you think? Not into romances, especially those of the teenage variety, you say? Think again. Hazel and Augustus's story is special in many ways: (1) Hazel and Augustus meet at a Kids with Cancer support group. (2) Hazel and Augustus have not had the "normal" school experiences most kids their age have had. (3) Hazel and Augustus have to deal with oxygen carts, a prosthetic leg, pic lines, and fear and other side effects of cancer. (4) Hazel and Augustus are incredibly smart and funny. As Augustus always says, "Life is not a wish-giving factory." Their tenderness and love for each other is a joy to witness. This is not a cancer book, even though cancer plays a big role. It is a story of how two people can find each other and connect in wonderful ways. It is a celebration of life. Read it and then join us for a lively discussion on Wednesday, July 24, at 7 pm at the Camden Jackson Township Public Library, or on Friday, July 26, at 9 am at the Delphi Public Library.

Monday, June 24, 2013

FEVER by Mary H Keane

Who is Mary Mallon?  Mary Mallon was an artist, a kitchen artist devoted to her passion and willing to make sacrifices for it.  In her day, she is remembered, but not as Mary Mallon, the cook, but as Typhoid Mary, the spreader of disease and often death.
Mary is a sympathetic character.  Certainly not a heroine, not even when her condition is thoroughly explained to her, not even when she indicated she understands.  Mary continually puts lives in danger by following her passion and supporting her one live, cooking.  "Baking is not cooking" she explained after she was forbidden to cook for others continued.

Mary was a victim and a villain.  Even after the Department of Health forcibly apprehended her, she refused to believe she was the one making people sick for she stated she'd never been sick in her life.  She could be considered victim because not much was known about Typhoid and how disease was spread at the time; Mary was taken against her will--doctors tested all her blood fluids weekly but yet nothing was explained to her concerning the results of these tests.  She was quarantined on an island away from people.  Mary could be considered a villain for after she was released from isolation with the stipulation of no cooking, she baked in a bakery and cooked for a hospital and many patients become ill.  This is an interesting read--part fiction part history.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Touching Heaven

Touching Heaven, by Leanne Hadley, is a sweet and touching account of actual real stories of terminally ill children and their encounter with a loving heavenly Father!

While Hadley served as a chaplain at a children's hospital, she came to know and love the seriously ill children she served.  She shares with us their faith and as well as their personal encounters with a God who proves He is ever present with the suffering and with the children!

This is an uplifting book and a special read for those who may have a loved one dealing with a terminal disease. Or if you are struggling as to if there is a here-after or questioning is their really a loving God when such innocent children suffer so, this book is for you! The faith of these children and their very unique stories of receiving peace before passing on to eternity will bless you and those you share these special God-encounters with.  Short and delightful!

Friday, June 14, 2013

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

A few years ago  I discovered that Stephen King's son, Joe Hill, had followed in his parents' footsteps and was a published author. Skeptical at first,  I admit that I was a bit critical of his work. But after finishing his latest novel NOS4A2, my opinions regarding his previous works have quickly been altered and are no longer quite as harsh. And I must say that this book is my favorite of his previously published titles; undoubtedly the best book that I've read all year.

Victoria (Brat) McQueen has a gift that she keeps to herself. She possesses the ability to locate missing objects by way of her Raleigh Turf Burner bicycle and an ancient old bridge dubbed "The Shorter Way." Once across, she skids and burns rubber into a different place and time, emerging from the Shorter Way with the missing articles and answers to questions gone unanswered for far too long.

Vic crosses paths with evil one day with she meets Charlie Manx. Charlie makes children disappear and has been doing so for several years. He seduces them with tales of a wonderful place called Christmasland and by the time they reach their final destination, those children are as horrific in nature as Charlie is. But Vic succeeds in a feat in which her predecessors failed. She manages to escape the 1938 Rolls Royce Wrath with the mysterious vanity plate and Charlie Manx's clutches.

Years of therapy later, Vic is now an adult, an author of children's books and the recent reciprocate of some very chilling phone calls. You see, Charlie is back with a vengeance and has set his sites on young Wayne, Victoria's son. Can a strong will, love and unimaginable magic conquer the evil that cruises down the back roads of Joe Hill's imagination?

Read it and find out.


Cooked is the newest offering from New York Times bestselling writer Michael Pollan.
Pollan is the author of several food related books including "The Omnivore's Dilemma:  A
Natural History of Four Meals" and "In Defense of Food:  An Eater's Manifesto".

This book begins with Pollan's realization that even though he has studied food
extensively, he has never given much thought to the food the comes from his own
kitchen.  Intrigued and somewhat dismayed by our first world culture of microwaved pizza and frozen ready to eat peanut butter and jam sandwiches, he set out to learn why we no
longer cook at home.  Relying on huge corporations to cook our food, we subject ourselves
to large quantities of fat, salt and sugar.

His journey to reclaim the food he eats is broken down to four catagories:  fire,
water, earth and air.  In the chapter titled fire, he learns from a North Carolina
barbecue pit master the method of cooking a whole hog over a wood coal fire.  He
is pleasantly surprised to find a noticeable difference in the flavor of the finished
pork.  Pollan takes the reader through similar journeys with braising, baking and

In the end, he learns that cooking connects us all and the cook stands between the
raw material of nature's gift of food and the culture that consumes it.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

A STEP OF FAITH by Richard Paul Evans

Alan Christoffersen lost his heart when his wife was killed in an accident almost one year ago. He lost his trust when his business partner stole his advertising business. He lost his home when the bank took his house. So Alan decided to leave his painful memories behind and walk from Seattle to the farthest point on the map, Key West, but in St. Louis, he is forced to stop.
  Midway through his cross-country walk, Alan collapses and wakes up in a hospital learning he has a brain tumor. His father has come out from Pasadena and takes him back home for the necessary surgery and recovery. At the hospital are two women who have prior connections to Alan, and both love him deeply. It is revealed that his young wife, who may have foreseen her own death, wanted him to remarry should she die before him, and his father, himself widowed early in life, discusses this with his son.  Treatment waylays him for a few weeks, during which time he manages to alienate the few friends and family he has left. One by one, Alan alienates them all, and he resumes his journey in angry loneliness. The people he meets as he walks the dusty southern back roads have lessons to teach Alan about accepting love. He just has to have faith that life can be worth living again—and that the woman he rejected will be willing to forgive him.
  A Step of Faith is the fourth journal of the Walk series an intriguing story that is simply an enjoyable read.

"Faith is the strength by which a shattered world shall emerge into the light" - Helen Keller

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Falling to Earth

The Tri-State Tornado of 1925--which traveled 219 miles, spent more than three hours on the ground, devastated 164 square miles, had a diameter of more than a mile, and traveled at speeds in excess of 70 mph--is unsurpassed in U.S. history. History Channel: This Day in History
This is the event on which Kate Southerland builds her stunning and unnerving debut novel. Her story begins on March 18, 1925 in fictional Marah, Illinois where Paul Graves, age 35, is enjoying a contented life he has built with his wife Mae.  Former high-school football star, father of three young children, devoted son and owner of thriving Graves Lumber, Paul seems to have it all. And that is exactly what the residents of Marah soon realize after the twister devastates every home and every family BUT the Graves. Southerland’s novel takes a careening path through the lives of the Graves and Marah residents, turning the tables on who are the victims and who are the survivors. This novel made me realize just how tedious our daily lives would become if we either had no place to claim as home or if our home is in the midst of destruction. A great novel for discussion and timely too.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Revisiting Afghanistan

This book has already received a great deal of prepub attention, and the author is already well-known to most readers, but Khaled Hosseini's new novel, his third, deserves yet another mention here. And the Mountains Echoed takes us back to Afghanistan for a story of two siblings separated at a young age. The book is sprawling, with numerous characters, settings, and time frames to keep track of. But as usual, Hosseini weaves a thread through the pages that is fairly easy to follow, and brings it all together at the end. He is such a talented storyteller. It is a simple story, really, of a family pried apart in a battered, struggling country that endures one devastating war after another. If you think you are weary of reading stories in such a setting, don't dismiss this book. The story, which spans about 60 years, is ultimately uplifting and life affirming. And the characters are drawn so completely--some endearing and some not--that you will feel as if they are in the room with you. They each have their own critical part to play in the story. Don't miss it.

Monday, May 27, 2013

The Guilty One

     As Lisa Balllantyne makes clear about her first novel, she has no experience in the field of law or social work, or psychiatry, so she had to do a lot of research for this book.  Though, it is set in England, this story of a child killing possibly by another child is relevant on both sides of the ocean.  The story focuses on exploring guilt and how past guilt affects out present day lives.
      Daniel Hunter is a London solicitor hired to defend a very troubled 11year old boy who is accused of killing a neighbor child.  Sebastian reminds him of himself at that age because he too was full of anger and could have ended up in a similar situation.  Daniel's anger stems from being forced to live in one foster home after another because his mother is a drug addict. 
     At the age of 11, he was sent to a farm in Brampton owned by Minnie who sells eggs and jellies to support herself and takes in foster children who need a strong hand and a lot of love.  Even though he grows to love the farm, he runs away several times to try and find his mother.  He is afraid she will die it he was not there to take care of herMinnie has her own feelings of guilt and sadness.  Both her daughter and husband are dead under circumstances she refuses to talk about and to cope she turns to alcohol.
     Eventually, Minnie adopts him.  She teaches him to take pride in his work and in school and sends him off to college.   But Minnie does the unforgivable and lies to him about his mother.  When Daniel finds out the truth, he refuses to have anything more to do with herAs the story opens, Minnie has sent him a letter asking him to come home for one last time as she is dying.
     During the trial, Daniel allows himself to reminisce about the past with his mother and then with Minnie.  He is very drawn to Sebastian whom he sees as having the same abusive childhood as he had. But does he or has he misjudged Sebastian?  
      I could not put down this book-well I did but I did not want to.  The story of Daniel and Minnie is especially powerful.  Sebastian's story is sad.  The author quotes Victor Hugo at the front of the novel "The soul in darkness sins, but the real sinner is he who caused the darkness".

Monday, May 13, 2013

Endangered by Eliot Schrefer

When Sophie's parents divorced, she was eight years old, and moved with her father to Miami.  Now  she spends every summer with her mother in the Democratic Republic of the Congo at the bonobo sanctuary.  Her mother has spent her life building this sanctuary which takes in the orphaned bonobo apes, and raises them to be released into the safety of a bonobo reserve on an isolated island in the Congo river far to the north of the Kinshasa sanctuary.  Bonobos are close cousins to chimpanzees and were called pygmy chimpanzees until 1954 when they were renamed bonobos.  The Congo  river separates the homeland of the chimpanzees and gorillas on the north side of the Congo from the bonobo homeland on the south side of the Congo.  Bonobos are a gentler and less hostile ape due to their separate homeland with fewer competitive species to share the jungle.  But they are endangered due to the extreme poverty of the people of the Congo, who hunt them for meat and kill the adults then sell the orphans on the streets to make money.
Fourteen year old Sophie saw one of these bonobo orphans,  being dragged through the streets  as she was  being taken to the sanctuary from the airport in Kinshasa.  She demanded the driver to stop and she paid the peasant for the orphan to rescue him and take it to her mother.  This was the beginning of Sophie's summer and it would be the most dangerous summer of her life.
Her mother gave Sophie the responsibility of being the surrogate mother for the orphan, Otto.  He was close to death, and it would be her job to nurse him back to health.  The attachment between the two quickly changed Sophie's life forever.  
A month after her arrival, her mother left Kinshasa to take the adult orphans up north to the reserve to release them back into the wild.  The next day, the volatile government was overthrown,  and soon  rebel soldiers invaded the sanctuary, brutally killing all the staff.  Sophie and Otto survived by entering the sanctury jungle area that was surrounded by a solar powered electric fence.  The bonobos who lived within this fence were not yet ready for release into the reserve, but were possibly as big a threat to Sophie as the rebels if they rejected her entering their world.
Sophie learns to live with them, to eat what they eat, sleep in their tree nests, and stay well hidden from the rebels until the electricity in the fence died, and Sophie knew she must get away before the rebels discover that it is off.  She finds herself, and the bonobos who follow her, making their way outside to escape certain death.  But the journey to find her mother leads through many heart-stopping dangers.   Sophie must use all her strength, courage and knowledge of the Congo to survive. Now she is the one who is endangered!

Monday, May 06, 2013

Chris Fabry Writes Another Outstanding Book!

Not In The Heart by Chris Fabry does not disappoint!

Truman Wiley, a washed out news reporter, father and husband, is running, no hiding, from the reality of his own failures. But there is something he can't totally block out and that is the fact that his son may soon die if a heart transplant doesn't come through and soon.

Wiley's estranged wife throws something surprising into the pot and that is the opportunity for Truman to write the story of a death row man who is actually wanting to donate his heart to Wiley's son!

As execution time gets closer, Wiley and his daughter, who is helping dad write the story, discover some surprising evidence that just might prove the death-row man is actually innocent.

Truman Wiley is forced to face the question:  must an innocent man die for his son?  In the process, he must face the personal question of what is "not in his heart" but could be.  With that decision the destiny of many will be changed forever!

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.