Saturday, June 20, 2015

I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios

       Living in a tiny, nowhere town can be difficult while also making you feel trapped in an isolated existence you can never escape. For Skylar, adding an alcoholic mother who you have to support with a low paying job makes this story even more emotional. Life in Creek View is not exotic, exciting, or promising for most of its inhabitants. The author’s writing is intelligent, informative, and brings the story of this small town to life.

      Skylar works at the Paradise Hotel where she reconnects with a former coworker, Josh, who is back in town because of medical leave from the Marines. Josh has lost a leg and struggles with PTSD and depression. His story gives insight into what many soldiers have to live with after serving overseas and it can be devastating to read at times. Throughout the story, Skylar and Josh become close and create a unique relationship that was beautiful to read but includes times of sorrow, much like most realistic relationships. Skylar has always been determined to make it out of Creek View and has worked hard to make it a possibility, but will having Josh in her life change her dreams?  What made this story so captivating to me was the strength of the characters and their determination to be happy during tragedy, heartbreak, and unfortunate circumstances that were faced throughout the book.

                I would recommend this book to fans of realistic fiction and romance.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Time of Death By Mark Billingham.

I am a great fan of Billingham's Tom Thorne suspense/mystery novels. They are intense, dark, and addictive.  Now with his 13th Thorne novel, he has become more focused on developing characters and relationships. First his relationship with Phil Hendricks forensic pathologist and more recently his love interest Helen Weekes. Even though it is fairly new, their relationship already carries baggage including a young son who resulted from Helen's previous relationship.
Having deposited their son at Helen's fathers, they go on a holiday to the Cotswolds. Shortly after arrival, they hear of the kidnapping of two teenage girls in Helen's childhood village. She decides to forgo her holiday in order to support her childhood friend whose husband has been charged with the kidnappings. Helen has not returned home since leaving 25 years earlier, nor has she kept in touch with her former schoolmates, so why is she so eager to help.? Thorne goes along for the beer and to be with Helen. But almost upon arrival, Helen becomes uncommunicative and of course Thorne decides to check on the progress of the case.
It's not long before he totally disagrees with the conclusions of the local police who are patting themselves on the back for their quick result. Plus there is still one girl missing and Thorne believes she is still alive. The locals are not pleased with his interference. Taking the novel out of the usual setting and into the small village of Polesford is a welcome change. It puts both Thorne and Weekes out of their usual element and gives them a disadvantage.  The novel is injects viewpoints from the murderer and the victim.  It will be interesting to see what carries over into the next book.  As always, I can't wait.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015


By Cathy LaGrow.  A true and amazing story of a woman, who when she was a young girl of 16, was raped by a stranger.  The young woman was Minka DeYoung and it was the 1920's. Surely a different time for a young woman to find herself violated and then pregnant.  But this story is not all horrifying as this one act surely was, because Minka was a woman of prayer and filled with an enormously huge love for the child she bore. Minka gave her baby, a beautiful girl, up for adoption and went back to her life as normal... but it wasn't normal. It wasn't the same anymore. The daughter was always on the mother's mind, was always a missing piece to happiness.  
A story of an amazing woman and the power of prayer and a story of beauty for ashes because seventy seven years later, mother and daughter are reunited and God had a plan all along.  This story will make you cry and it will make you rejoice.  It is indeed a testimony to a loving God, who is involved intricately in our lives.  This is the Faith-Inspired Book Club pick for June 2015 at the Delphi Public Library.

Finders Keepers

Stephen King’s latest novel, Finders Keepers, the second novel in the Bill Hodges Trilogy, returns us to the time and place of Bill Hodges, the former detective who featured largely in King’s Mr. Mercedes. This time, however, it takes quite a few chapters for our dear Det Ret to make the scene.  Instead the novel opens up alternating between two characters, young preteen Peter Saubers and a twenty-something ne’er-do-well, Morris Bellamy, with literary pretensions.  Fans of reclusive literary giants (Salinger comes to mind) may be sympathetic to Bellamy. Obsessed with the work of John Rothstein, famous for his “Runner” trilogy, Morris sets out to make right a perceived wrong.  Believing that Rothstein’s third book sells out his beloved Jimmy Gold (readers of Misery will recognize this particular bent), Bellamy seeks to both avenge, and possibly redeem, his literary hero, by executing the robbery and subsequent murder of Rothstein.  His research on the author’s habits (regular purchases of moleskin notebooks) pays off when the safe offers up not only 20,000 dollars in cash, but also a great number of meticulously filled notebooks in the author’s hand.  Before he is able to fulfill his obsessive desire to reopen the tale of Jimmy Gold, Morris is picked up and imprisoned for an unrelated crime. Fast-forward 20 years, and meet Peter Saubers, a pragmatic eavesdropper in a family that has literally been crippled by the crimes of Brady Hartsfield (the disturbed villain in Mr. Mercedes). Peter, watching his family’s downward spiral, is seemingly offered a miracle solution when he stumbles upon a half-exposed trunk on the vacant property near his home.  The boy’s choices, fueled by desperation and altruism, and the concurrent release of Morris Bellamy, whose fervor has been finely honed by 35 years of incarceration and abuse, lead to a few action-packed chapters.  However, as a long-time Stephen King fan, I was faintly disappointed in the novel, and its hardly surprising climax.  I felt it lacked the mystery that usually drives my frantic, last 100 pages, what’s-going-to-happen-now, binge reading. Despite this, it was nice to see Bill Hodges and his crew again, however briefly their appearances, and some goings-on with a famed catatonic hint at what could turn out to be a thrilling third installment. Overall, I would give the book a three-star review, but fans of King will likely enjoy it or hate it, as fans (Annie Wilkes and Morris Bellamy would understand) often do.

Saturday, June 06, 2015

Unforgettable: A Son, a Mother, and the Lessons of a Lifetime by Scott Simon

In July 2013, Scott Simon was vacationing with his family when he received a call from his mother, Patricia Lyons Simon Newman Gelbin. Instead of joining them in California as planned, she had been admitted to the ICU in Chicago and wasn’t getting answers from the staff about her condition. After days of getting nowhere on the phone with hospital staff, Simon flies to Chicago to be at his mother’s side and talk to the doctors in person. He arrives to find her hooked up to oxygen and with a grim prognosis.

Unwilling to leave his mother, Simon spends the next week at his mother’s bedside, even sleeping on the floor of her hospital room. During this time, he tweeted messages to his 1.2 million Twitter followers, celebrating his mother during the last days of her extraordinary life. This book is an expansion on those tweets, telling the story of a remarkable woman who was funny, gracious, and kind to those around her even as she was lying in a hospital bed hooked up to countless machines.

While this story would have been touching in the hands of a lesser author, Scott Simon, an award winning journalist and host of NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday, is able to tell a story rich with emotion and life. Unforgettable is equally thoughtful, funny, and heart wrenching, a story of a son and a mother who have been through the ups and downs of life together and come out strong. This is evident even in the short tweets that begin each chapter, such as “I tell my mother, ‘You’ll never stop teaching me.’ She said, ‘Well don’t blame me for everything.’” and “I just realized: she once had to let me go into the big wide world. Now I have to let her go the same way.”

Unforgettable is a book that touches the heart and will stay on the mind for days after it's finished. For fans of Simon’s radio show, the audiobook version is a special treat.