Thursday, March 27, 2014

Power Play is a story of two very successful and powerful CEO's of industry whose lives are a lot alike, at the same time very difference.
Ambition, trust and morality brilliantly told.  Fiona Carson and Marshall
Weston are ambitious, brilliant, committed, shrewd, hardworking and successful.  They are both leaders in their own rights.  In a way, both are broken and searching for happiness.

However, one is a woman and the other is a man.   One is based in Palo Alto and the other is based out of San Francisco.   Forty-nine year old Fiona Carson is divorced and the mother of two college age students.  She is committed to her job as a CEO of a tech company as much as she is committed to her children.  On the other hand,  Marshall Weston leads a double life.   One of them involves a mistress who is thirty years old.  She lives with their twin daughters in Malbu.  His legal wife Liz lives with their three children in Marin.  A chain of events set off by Marshall Weston's uninhibited lifestyle threatens to reveal and destroy everything.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A fascinating, first-hand account of slavery

12 Years A Slave; A True Story of Betrayal, Kidnap and Slavery, written by Solomon Northrup, a black man who was born free and who, in 1841, was ‘tricked’ into slavery, ripped away from his family and his life. This is a fascinating account of his experience as a slave after being drugged, kidnapped, sold and taken to the swamps of Louisiana to live in deplorable conditions and suffer inhumane treatment. Numerous accounts have been written on the subject of slavery, (fiction and non) but what is unique in this particular story is the first hand perspective. Northrup describes (in graphic detail) the floggings he took and the ones he was forced to give to  his fellow slaves. He gives accounts of the meager food rations and how, by his own devices, he was able to trap fish, raccoon and opossum and prepare them without the use of utensils or pots. He offers up vivid descriptions of the processes used in picking cotton and cutting sugar cane.  Through his words, the reader can vividly imagine the back breaking labor, the pain of sleeping on a splintered slab of wood, and the oppressive feeling of being watched over every minute of daylight.
Near the end of his book, Northrup aptly sums up his story in this way: “I can speak of slavery only so far as it came under my own observation – only so far as I have known and experienced it in my own person. My object is to give a candid and truthful statement of facts: to repeat the story of my life, without exaggeration, leaving it for others to determine, whether even the pages of fiction present a picture of more cruel wrong or a severer bondage.”

This is a haunting tale and one that will stay with me for some time. 

Monday, March 24, 2014


By Diane Ackerman.  This book is excellent. Though it does start off slow, I felt, and was at first weighed down with in-depth description of things other than the meat of the story, but by the end, I loved it.

Jan and Antonina Zabinski run a reputable zoo in the Polish capital of Warsaw pre-WW II. Their lives are good and their career of zookeeper fulfilling.  Home is happy where they share their dwelling with a variety of healing zoo animals or zoo animals that have become pets.  I laughed out loud many times with the tales of these typically wild animals living with human beings. It is a unique home, for sure.

 But, WWII comes and the Germans invade Poland. Life at home and at the zoo change drastically for the Zabinskis and their son Rys.  I learned  so much about what the Polish suffered in this war and because of this story, admire and respect them as a beautiful and courageous people.

This is a book about a woman and her bravery. It is a book about her husband and his conviction to duty and helping a people, the Jews, who he loved. As to duty, I like to quote Jan Zabinski's words, "I only did my duty. If you can save someones life, it's your duty to try. We did it because it was the right thing to do." The right thing to do!

If you like animals and history and true stories of the Holocaust, you will like The Zookeeper's Wife. Good read!

Monday, March 17, 2014

In the striking classic, Flowers for Algernon, Daniel Keyes challenges popular notions of humanity and the human experience.  Written in diary-like entries from the point of view of protagonist Charlie Gordon, the novel invites its readers to experience a daringly imagined journey of the mind.  Charlie, mentally disabled since birth, has been selected to participate in a surgical experiment designed to artificially increase his intelligence by nearly threefold.  Proceeded by his animal counter-part, the lab mouse Algernon, Charlie is hardly cognizant of the risks or possible side-effects that such a dramatic surgery entails. He knows only that “all my life I wantid to be smart and not dumb.”  As the journal entries (labeled as progress reports) progress chronologically, Charlie’s entries, began with such simplicity, evolve into the self-questioning struggle of a man seeking to know himself and his place in the world.  As the veil of mental impairment lifts, Charlie becomes aware of the nature of his “friends” and their treatment of him, and he often vacillates between shame and righteous anger.  He also begins to recover memories of a childhood in which he was constantly berated and threatened by an abusive mother whom he could not please.   Just as Charlie is beginning to come to grips with the reality of his “self”, both past and present, his new status as genius is threatened. Algernon, whose post-surgery successes prompted the scientist to include a human element in their experimental trials, begins acting erratically.  What does Algernon’s apparent deterioration spell for Charlie’s new intellect? A deeply moving, and highly original piece, this novel is well-deserving of the title of Classic.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Winter People.

by Jennifer McMahon.

In 1908, Sara Harrison Shea's  young daughter, Gertie, dies after a particularly harsh winter. Blaming her husband Martin for the loss of Gertie, Sara's mentality declines and and she's more than willing to do what it takes to have her daughter back with her once again.

 Flashing forward to present day, we find that Ruthie Washburne has awakened one morning and has discovered that her mother, Alice, has disappeared from their home.

A diary is found hidden beneath the floorboards of Alice's bedroom. Sara Harrison Shea's diary. Does it hold secrets that might aide in finding Ruthie's mother?

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Fallen Women

Sandra Dallas has written many popular books including the New York Times Best Seller Prayers for Sale. In Fallen Women, the reader will experience life for a woman in 1885, old west Denver, Colorado.

Beret Osmundsen  has gotten word that her younger sister has been killed in a brothel. Overcome with questions, Beret travels from her home in New York to Denver to get answers and help in the investigation.  Beret is a gutsy woman, standing well on her own in a man's world.  Sandra Dallas weaves a story which  gets us hungering for the facts. For instance, "What caused the estrangement of the two sisters prior to the murder?"  "How did sister Lilly end up in a brothel, an experienced prostitute?"  and, "Who did kill Lilly?"

Fallen Women is an excellent read. I found it highly enjoyable and will read more of Sandra Dallas in the future!