Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders, 343 pages

I listened to this book that was read by lots of people and many whom I recognized from Hollywood or other books I've listened to.  The story tells the tale of tale of the night after Willie Lincoln's burial in the Georgetown cemetery. 

Not surprisingly, Willie and his father, President Abraham Lincoln, are both struggling with Willie's death.  It was an interesting book.  And while I didn't love it I am glad I read it.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Kids of Appetite by David Arnold, 331 pages

It starts in two interrogation rooms at the Hackensack Police Department...

In one room sits Vic (short for Victor).Two years ago, Vic's father died of cancer. Two years later, Vic is still missing him so much it hurts. So on a fateful evening in early December, when Vic storms out of his house, he takes his father's urn with him. In doing so, he sets in motion a quest that will lead him to closure, friends, the girl of his dreams, and a murder.

In the other sits Mad (short for Madeline). Her uncle has just been murdered.

As Vic and Mad tell their stories (or avoid telling their stories), they unpack the events of the past eight days. In sentences that read like poetry, author David Arnold shows us all the ways Vic and Mad overlap. If Vic and Mad were a Venn diagram, their overlap would be the truth. And it's the truth that protects the innocent.

The writing is spectacular. Arnold's sentences read like poems, and there is plenty of deep stuff that will leave you contemplating your place in the universe, and the universe itself. There are some places where the plot doesn't quite work, but all in all, the writing helps you suspend your disbelief. I highly recommend this book.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction by Neil Gaiman, 522 pages

This is a collection of author Neil Gaiman's selected speeches, introductions to books, essays and articles.  It starts with an homage to books and libraries and includes other various topics like authors past and present, music, storytelling, comics, bookshops, travel, fairy tales, America, inspiration and ghosts.

I listened to the book, which was read by the author himself.  It provides wonderful insight into his smart and creative brain.  Very enjoyable and I added several books and authors to my "to be read" list

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, 462 pages

Loved. This. Book.  Count Alexander Rostov is sentenced to house arrest for life in 1922 due to a seditious poem.  He is sentenced to live in the same luxury hotel he has been living in for four years, but is moved from his suite to small servants quarters.

Alexander is in his early 30s when he is sentenced and quite a man of the world.  We follow his life for the next 30 years or so, all lived out in the hotel.  The book is full of friendship, love, coping, humor and a cast of wonderful characters. 

I listened to the book, which was read by Brit Nicholas Guy Smith.  Pure heaven.  I stopped listening for a few days because I didn't want it to end.  Alas, I had to finish it because ultimately, I had to know how it ended. 

Harmony by Carolyn Parkhurst, 278 pages

In the mood for a bit of psychological thriller?  Interested in a book about the autism spectrum?  Like a good family story?  This book has all that and more.

The story unfolds from the perspective of three characters: Alexandra (mom), Tilly (on the spectrum) and Iris (Tilly's sister).  Alexandra and Josh, parents to Tilly and Iris, are looking for help with raising Tilly the best way possible.  They think the find the answer in Scott Bean, who has a blog about how to have a harmonious family with a child on the autism spectrum.  Scott Bean has the idea of starting Camp Harmony, a camp where families will spend a week, learning how to better interact with each other.

Alexandra, Josh and the girls leave their life and head to Camp Harmony to help start the camp with two other families, along with Scott.  Unfortunately, things end up being not so harmonious at the camp . . .

Monday, June 5, 2017

Hidden Figures: The Untold True Story of Four African American Women Who Helped Launch Our Nation into Space by Margo Lee Shetterly, 240 pages

The hit movie "Hidden Figures" is based on the book "Hidden Figures" and I listened to the Young Readers Edition because that is what we had available through MissouriLibraries2Go.

A little known fact is that the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics based in Langley, Virginia recruited women during WWII to work as mathematicians, known as computers.  NACA also recruited black women to be computers.

This is the true story of four of those black women, who were all brilliant mathematicians, and their journey at NACA, which became NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick 400 pages

Britt has been training to hike the Teton Range over spring break with her best friend Korbie. Britt knew that Korbie's boyfriend Bear was going to join them, but she was unprepared for Korbie's brother, Calvin who is Britt's ex-boyfriend. As Britt and Korbie head up to the mountain, they get stuck in a snow storm in the middle of the road. The girls decide to get out and look for help. They come across a cabin where two men are staying. At first, they seem like they are going to help until the hold the girls hostage. Britt is forced become their guide off the mountain. Britt must do what she has to, to survive. She tries to escape, but is caught by Mason. When they walk back to the cabin where they were staying, Britt sees Calvin kill her other kidnapper. Britt just thinks that Calvin is worried about her and will do anything to find her. But when Britt arrives to Korbie's and Calvin's family cabin, learns a secret while on the  her in more danger than before. Who will make it off the mountain alive?  

The Stars of Summer by Tara Dairman 352 pages

Gladys Gatsby is turning twelve and for her birthday, she receives a counselor-in-training position at the day camp in town from her friend Charissa. Gladys did not envision her summer at day camp. She would rather be at the library looking through cookbooks or thinking about her next restaurant review for the New York Standard. At least she gets to work in the kitchen, however, she and the cook have opposite views on good food. So while Gladys is dealing with the camp cook, she learns that her next review is to find the best hotdog in New York. How is Gladys supposed to visit all the different hotdog vendors in New York and still make her deadline with her editor?

This was read by Kathleen McInerney. 

All Fall Down by Ally Carter 320 pages

When Grace was thirteen, she witnessed the death of her mother. Everyone believes that she died because of a fire, but Grace is adamant that her mother was killed by a man with a scarred face. When Grace moves to Embassy Row to live with her grandfather, she believes that she has found her mother's killer, but no one believes her. Not her grandfather, her new friends, or Alexei, the boy Russian boy next door. When Grace starts to follow the scarred man, she discovers things about herself that she is not ready to face. Grace confronts her grandfather but he keeps declaring that her mother's death was an accident. She finally learns the truth about her mother's death. 

This was read by Eileen Stevens. 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman, 324 pages

Britt-Marie first turned up in another Fredrik Backman book "My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry."  She was the fussy neighbor who never had anything nice to say and was not very likeable.

Fredrik Backman specializes in writing about curmudgeonly people with a heart of gold.  These folks might not have family that consists of relatives, but by the end of the book, they have family that consists of people who love and appreciate them. 

Britt-Marie had to leave home to find her place and that family, but she does so with satisfying results.  Verdict: heartwarming, sweet and uplifting; another winner from Swedish author Fredrik Backman.