Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Rainbow Comes and Goes: A Mother and Son on Life, Love and Loss by Anderson Cooper and Gloria Vanderbilt, 304 pages

CNN correspondent Anderson Cooper is the son of Gloria Vanderbilt.  At the beginning of her 91st year they started an email correspondence where they shared what was important to each of them and what they still wanted to learn about each other.

I listened to the book and each read their own letters.  It was a fascinating look into their lives and strong relationship.  I probably would have never picked up this book, but I heard Anderson Cooper talk about it at a conference a few months ago and it sounded intriguing.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty, 460 pages

This is the second time I've had the pleasure of reading this book.  Two of the library's book clubs are reading it this year so I read it again for the Downtown Library book club.

"Big Little Lies" revolves around three women, all of whom have kindergartners at Pirriwee Public School.   Jane is new in town and is a 26 year old single mother.  Madeline just turned 40 and is happily married to her second husband.  She has three children and a huge grudge against her first husband, who deserted her when her now 14 year old daughter was 3 weeks old.  Celeste is also near 40, has identical twin boys and seemingly has the perfect marriage and life.

A quite large calamity happens at the school's trivia night and the novel reveals the build up to that night and what happened afterwards.  Ohhh, this was fun and serious and suspenseful and wonderful.  Three words: Perfect Summer Read.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Took: a ghost story by Mary Downing Hahn 264 pages

Mary Downing Hahn has a real knack for writing stories for young readers that are scary, but just scary enough.  Her most recent story is about a boy named Daniel and his sister Erica.  Their parents have fallen on kind of hard times and they are moving from Connecticut to a small rural community in West Virginia.  The house they find is a big old farm house that really gives the children the creeps.  They decide it's probably because it's so far away from everything, except the woods.  At first it's a bit of an adventure, exploring the woods and being somewhere new.  The kids they go to school with are not very welcoming and think that Daniel and Erica are snobs, simply because them come from Connecticut.  Already feeling completely disconnected from peers, they suffer an increasing loneliness even between them at home.  There's something in the woods that scares Erica and though their parents dismiss their fears, Daniel and Erica hear the stories their classmates tell of Old Auntie the conjure woman who steals children with the help of her pet monster.  Erica withdraws more and more into herself, confiding in and talking only to her doll.  When the worst and most unlikely thing happens, Daniel will have to use all his courage to try to find his sister.  I recommend this book to brave fourth graders and older.  It had some chilling imagery and could definitely cause some kids to have nightmares!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Wild Thing by Josh Bazell, 388 pages

Dr. Peter Brown is still hiding from the mob and is currently known as Dr. Lionel Azimuth.  When the story begins he is working on a cruise ship as a crew physician.  You'd think it would be a fun job, but nope.

He gets a call from a contact in witness protection who asks him to do a favor.  A reclusive billionaire is looking for a doctor / protector to go with sexy paleontologist to find out if a supposed lake monster is really a lake monster or a hoax.

Cursing and bad guys follow.  Not as good as the first Dr. Peter Brown book, "Beat the Reaper" but still a fun read.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs 352 pages

Jacob has grown up listening to his grandfather's fantastic stories of his own childhood.  Grandpa Abe spoke of monsters, and children with seemingly magical powers.  When Jacob got older, he was teased for believing in fairy tales.  He decided that his grandfather must be pulling his leg and stopped believing.  Then his grandfather is killed and no one believes Jacob when he tells what he saw.  The rest of the story is a lesson in why we should never stop believing in other possible truths.  Sometimes magic really does touch our lives and sometimes the monsters are very real.  I really enjoyed this book.  It wasn't what I was expecting at all and I enjoyed the story.  It is definitely for young adults and up, some harsh language was used.  I listened to it read by Jesse Bernstein and while his accents were a bit forced, it was still very listenable.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Miessner 386 pages

Fifteen-year-old Emmy Downtree dreams of being a designer of bridal gowns.  She spends a good part of her time dreaming and drawing.  However, life has a way of interfering in our dreams.  WWII is coming and Emmy and her younger sister, Julia, are evacuated out of London.  They find themselves at the home of "Aunt" Charlotte in the rural English countryside, a nearly idyllic situation.  Except for Emmy, who must get back to London as she has been offered an apprentice position with a designer.  Their lives change forever when young Julia insists on running away with Emmy.  You see, it is the beginning of the Luftwaffe bombing of London and the world as they know it is about to be destroyed. A cruel twist of fate separates the girls, now orphans.  Will they survive, and if so, will they ever be reunited?  And when Fate plays it's wicked tricks, how much of another's fate can we take the blame for? A must read for fans of WWII historical fiction.  Reader's guide included.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

The Passenger by Lisa Lutz 302 pages

I can’t remember the last time I had to work so hard not to read the last page before the ending—which is something I don’t normally do anyway, unless of course I’ve decided beyond a shadow of a doubt that I won’t be finishing the book—because I literally could not stand not knowing. I was hooked from the very first sentence on the first page, to the last sentence on the last page. It was that kind of a book.
Tanya is on the run. Again. Especially since her husband fell to his death down a flight of stairs. (I’m not giving anything away. This is knowledge imparted in the first sentence.) Because of her past she’s sure the police won’t believe her and might even find out why she’s on the run to begin with.

In the course of her cross country travels she picks up then ditches quite a few identities, meets several shady characters, and some not so shady but since she can’t tell the difference she continues to run until… I don’t want to give anything away so you’ll just have to read it for yourself.

Well written, a great storyline, a plucky protagonist quick on her feet, and seriously fast paced, The Passenger is a great read.

Rosemary: the Hidden Kennedy Daughter by Kate Clifford Larson, 302 pages

Rosemary Kennedy was born during the flu epidemic 1918.  Why did that matter?  She was born at home and the doctor who was supposed to deliver her was busy dealing with the flu.  A nurse helping Rose Kennedy give birth to her third child and first daughter physically held the head of baby Rosemary and forced her to stay in the birth canal for two hours, while they waited for the doctor to arrive.

Rosemary was a beautiful baby, child and young woman but she was developmentally disabled and never read or wrote beyond about a 4th grade level.  She struggled to keep up with her high achieving siblings.   As she got older, she became harder to control and deal with.  Her father, hearing of the wonders of lobotomies and how docile patients were afterwards, decided that Rosemary should have a lobotomy when she was 23.  The surgery was not a success and damaged Rosemary both physically and mentally.  Rosemary, who had never been institutionalized, spent the rest of her life in an institution.

Her siblings did not know for many years what had actually happened to her.  The tragedy of her own life inspired her siblings, nieces and nephews to help others with developmental disabilities.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Murder in an Irish Village by Carlene O'Conner 334 pages

This is a quick and easy read, perfect for a hot summer's day.  One of the reviews said " If Janet Evanovich and Maeve Binchey wrote a book together... This would be the result."  This statement may be a bit of an exaggeration, but none the less, Siobhan O'Sullivan has her hands full.  Not only is she the guardian for her 5 brothers and sisters since their parents were tragically killed, but she runs the family bistro and is famous for her brown bread.  Then her brother, James is accused of murder!  She decides to find the real murderer while juggling all her other duties and trying to decide between the local Garda and the movie star handsome American.  Sound familiar?  1st in a new series and I will read have no problem reading the next one.  BTW...blogged while drinking a bicyclist @ Free State  Brewery in Lawrence.  Aw gawd, isn't retirement grand!?!