Monday, September 26, 2016

Treasure Hunters/ James Patterson/ 451 pages

My son received this book as a birthday gift.  He finished it and said "This book was awesome!! You have to read it!" So, I did.  It was a fun book to read.  The story is told by a set of twins.  One writes the story and the other illustrates.  Treasure Hunters is about a group of kids (the Kidds) who lose their mom and dad, now they must treasure hunt and survive on their own.  I think it will be a fun series.  I really, really enjoy the illustrations--very fun & funny!

A Dog's Purpose / W. Bruce Cameron / 319 pgs

Since starting at the Spencer Road Library in January, I have a longer commute from Wright City and back again. My dislike for St. Louis radio stations and my political pundit fatigue this election year has driven me to audiobooks and I’ve been enjoying them immensely! I just finished A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron and it has greatly contributed to my new appreciation for dogs, which is a feat considering how firmly of a cat person I have been up until now. A Dog’s Purpose tells the tale of a dog who learns his purpose in life over the course of four dog lifetimes - first as Toby, then Bailey, then Ellie, and finally as Buddy. The book is hilarious as we learn how dogs think, their desire to be a “good dog,” to take car rides and eat food! However, it is also a three hanky tale, so be forewarned that a lot of heartstrings will be tugged. I am about to check out the sequel, A Dog’s Journey, and can’t wait to take my husband (a firm dog lover) to see the movie version starring Dennis Quad when it comes out on January 27th. I suspect with the new movie coming out, the book might go on the reserve list. As of right now, there are only three of thirteen copies available, but it is offered as an e-book and e-audiobook.

Bloodlines/Sharon Sala/372 pgs.

At the age of two, Olivia Sealy was kidnapped, and her parents were murdered--an unsolved case. Her protective grandfather raised her, giving her a life of luxury. Fast forward decades later, and the bones of a baby are found in a suitcase hidden in a wall. Olivia's old boyfriend, Detective Trey Bonney, is called in to investigate. Old feelings between Trey and Olivia come to the surface--especially when it becomes obvious that Olivia's life is in danger. The original copyright on this book is 2005--it shows. It's a fast, entertaining, light read.

Daughters of the Bride/Susan Mallery/400pgs.

This is typical Susan Mallery--which I thoroughly enjoy! Courtney, Sienna, and Rachel are the "daughters" in the title; the "bride", is their mother, Maggie. Rachel, the oldest of the girls, is a single mother--she divorced her husband, Greg, when he confessed to a "one night stand." Sienna, the middle child, is the "pretty" one, but is the force behind a non-profit that assists abused women. Courtney, the youngest, is "the klutz;" she left school at 18, and is close to completing her college degree--unbeknownst to her sisters and mother. Maggie was left with three young daughters when her husband passed away years ago. So, this is more than just about a wedding--this is family dynamics at its best and worst! Recommended!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Winter Garden/ Kristin Hannah/ 391 pages

Winter Garden written by Kristin Hannah is a story of a mother who hides all emotion and two daughters trying to break through.  When Meredith and Nina were young, their mother, Anya, told them a fairy tale of peasant Vera, prince Sasha and their great love.  One day Anya refuses to continue to tell the tale.  After the passing of Meredith's and Nina's father, the girls must find a way to convince Anya to finish the tale.  It was their dying father's wish.  Along the way the reader is introduced to Jeff, Meredith's husband and Danny, Nina's boyfriend.  Meredith has stayed close to home, helping her father run the family apple orchard.  Nina has traveled the world often with Danny in search of the perfect photograph.  As more of the fairy tale is told, it becomes evident that the story is true and very much a part of Anya's life.  Over all the book will hold the reader's interest although the characters seem a bit extreme in each of their weaknesses.  The 'fairy tale' gives an insiders recounting of the Siege of Leningrad and the suffering endured.  The ending is just a little too neat, but does reinforce the idea presented through out the book of not waiting to do something.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Inferno / Dante Alighieri / 352 pgs

Since I read the Barnes and Nobles classic paperback version, I am putting the page count at 352. It seems that the hardcover versions on Goodreads often have over 400 pages, and I feel that must be because a lot of extra commentary and footnotes are present that were not on my version. So, Dante is just one of those classic authors I never got around to reading. I'm certain my literature textbooks had excerpts from The Divine Comedy, but his writings were never assigned to me, and I never had the interest to read him until now, despite the interest I've always had in religious ideas of the afterlife.

What can I say? It was VERY Italian. It seemed almost everyone Dante meets in Hell are Italians, including a couple of popes. Of the few names I knew, they mostly were other great writers whom Dante meets in the limbo on the very outskirts of the nine circles of hell - people who never knew God so never outright rejected him and never committed sins great enough to merit Hell. Dante liberally inserts people who likely never existed, mostly those fictional characters from the writings of Homer, and treats them as if they were real. Dante's guide is the poet Virgil. All in all, I'm very glad I read The Inferno. I now own it, since I picked it up from the Book Sale Ladder in the foyer of Spencer Road. I hope I'll get a chance to read Purgatorio and Paradiso at some point in the near future.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Sully: My Search for What Really Matters/ Chesley B. Sullenberger lll/ 340 pages

Sully: My Search for What Really Matters is a memoir of the events of January 15, 2009 and much more.  The author retraces his youth in Texas beginning with his love of flight and flying lessons at the age of 16.  He moves on to his military career and finally his work for Southwest Pacific Air and US Air.  Interspersed are the events of January 15 which culminated in the safe landing of US Air Flight 1549 in the Hudson River.  Through out the book Sully stresses that he is not a hero, he simply did what he had been trained to do.  The read is easy and not overly technical.  The book contains the actual cockpit conversation with the pilots and air traffic control from January 15.  The reader also gets to meet Sully's family and his thoughts on family life.

Scarecrow / Michael Connelly 432 p.

Jack McElvoy (The Poet) has just been given his pink slip from the the LA Times.  He decides to go out in a burst of glory by writing about a teenager's drop into crime from growing up in poverty.  When he investigates the murder he finds that the teenager's confession is bogus.  When he links the LA murder to another, he is again linked with Rachel Walling, FBI agent.  Together they hunt for a serial killer as manipulative, smart, devious, and cunning as the Poet.  Before Jack even realizes just what he is up against, the Scarecrow strikes.  Jack's identity is stolen.  He finds himself in an isolated area without bank accounts, credit cards, and cell phones. The Scarecrow has been flying so low below police radar that no one has a clue about him.  Connelly skillfully interweaves the death of the newspapers with the romance of McElvoy and Walling and the investigation.  The Scarecrow's side is interspersed into the story, too.  Even without Harry Bosch, this is one of Connelly's best.
Scarecrow / Michael Connelly 432 p.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Leave Me:a Novel/ Gayle Forman/ 340 pages

Leave Me: a Novel written by Gayle Forman deals with an almost near death experience and it's impact on those around the patient.  Mary Beth is a busy New York working mother trying to keep umpteen balls in the air at once.  She feels her friend Elizabeth has moved on and her husband, Jason, does not appreciate all she does.  After ignoring chest pain for a day, Mary Beth finds herself in an ER with a diagnosis of heart attack.  She endures open heart surgery and comes home to recover.  But how does the mother of twin preschoolers possibly rest and recover?  Mary Beth runs away from home to Pittsburgh to rest and recuperate.  Along the way she makes some new friends, sorts out her feelings and learns how her husband truly feels about her.  He learns a few things along the way as well. This was an interesting read that any working mother could relate to.  It could be an eye opening read for the husband of a working mother.

Rocket Girls/ Nathalia Holt/ 338 pages

Rocket Girls by Nathalia Holt traces the history of the Joint Propulsion Lab computers.  Not the current microchip bolstered version.  No Holt takes us back to the original computers.  Young women with strong math skills and a love of mathematics.  These early computers, yes they were called computers, worked on tissue thin paper with mechanical pencils solving complex problems that put the US into the Space Race.  Along the way, some dropped out to start families only to return to the work place later.  Some were present for the  early failures and few successes as the US rushed to catch up to the Soviet Union.  Eventually the pencils gave way to mechanical calculators, room size computers filled with tubes and finally person desk top computers.  Along the way the engineers almost always preferred the calculations done by the women over the machines.  This is an interesting read that combines flight test, space travel, and interplanetary travel into the tale of women in the workplace.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend/Katarina Bivald/394 pgs.

What a fun debut novel by this Swedish author! Sara Lindqvist travels from Sweden to meet her pen pal, Amy Harris, who happens to live in Broken Wheel, Iowa--an extremely small town that has seen better days. Upon arriving, Sara learns that she has showed up on the day of Amy's funeral. The residents don't quite know what to do with Sara, and vice versa. It's a heart warming story of a small town pulling together, and a tourist discovering herself in a most unexpected place. Highly recommended!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Book Stops Here : a mobile library mystery 307 p.

Mobile librarian, Israel Armstrong, is going home to London in a 30 year old about-to-be-retired bookmobile to attend the Mobile Meet, an annual library convention.  He and fellow librarian, Ted Carson, barely get to meet Israel's family, have dinner, and have some good coffee when the bookmobile is stolen.  The two head after the missing vehicle and encountering a variety of characters along the way.

Book Stops Here : a mobile library mystery 307 p.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

All Summer Long by Dorthea Benton Frank

Olivia is a New York City interior designer with a very high-priced clientele. Her husband, Nick, is a professor who is ready to retire and move back to his beloved Southern roots. The story involves the transition from the big city to the low country and its impact on this loving couple.  We are introduced to the high-brow, jet-setting life of some of Olivia's clients and their quirky relationships and personalities.  I enjoyed listening to the story, but I didn't find the plot or characters as rich and rewarding as I had hoped.

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarity

Alice Love is twenty-nine, crazy about her husband, and pregnant with her first child.
Imagine Alice’s surprise when she comes to on the floor of a gym and is whisked off to the hospital where she discovers the honeymoon is truly over — she’s getting divorced, she has three kids and she’s actually 39 years old. Alice must reconstruct the events of a lost decade, and find out whether it’s possible to reconstruct her life at the same time. She has to figure out why her sister hardly talks to her, and how is it that she’s become one of those super skinny moms with really expensive clothes. 
Ultimately, Alice must discover whether forgetting is a blessing or a curse, and whether it’s possible to start over.
There are so many times Alice's journey back to remembering her life made me wonder the "what if's" in my own life. How easily we all fall into taking our life and the people we love for granted. I enjoyed this book and think it would be a wonderful book club discussion selection.

After You by Jojo Moyes 384 pages

For Louisa Clark, life after Will Traynor means learning to fall in love again, with all the risks that brings. But here Jojo Moyes introduces us to Will's daughter (unknown to Will) that Louisa feels an obligation to care for and protect. Louisa also seeks counseling to work through her grief. We meet the various members of her group and some of their issues. The story rambles and lost my interest in several places. "After You" does not come close to "Me Before You."

Sweet Tomorrows/Debbie Macomber/337 pages

This is the conclusion to the Rose Harbor series.  The story of the characters Jo Marie and Mark is concluded and there are references to some of the past patrons of the Rose Harbor Inn. This book is written from the viewpoint of the four main characters in alternating chapters.  It was a typical Debbie Macomber style book so you could guess how the book would end.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Find Her/Lisa Gardner/402 pgs.

Flora Dane was a college student on spring break when she was abducted seven years ago. She was rescued after being held for 472 days. For the past five years, Flora has become somewhat of a vigilante--trying to lure potential predators to exposing themselves, and then taking care of them. Her path crosses with that of Boston detective D.D. Warren who isn't sure if Flora is a victim or a vigilante at a recent crime scene. When Flora goes missing again, it seems as if history might be repeating itself. Highly suspenseful, Find Her keeps the reader on the edge of her/his seat providing a satisfying conclusion. Highly recommended!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Truly Madly Guilty/ Liane Moriarty/ 415 pages

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty is a study of how one event can effect nine different people.  It's a particularity rainy time in Sydney, Australia.   But just a few weeks ago six and their children acquaintances gathered for an impromptu barbecue.  For the remainder of the book, bit by bit the incident at the barbecue is revealed as the reader learns more and more about each participant.  A cellist, a stripper, a cranky old man and a request for donor eggs all contribute the story and the incident.  This was a very interesting read.  The reader was kept guessing as to the true nature of the incident.  As each bit is revealed the reader may begin to know what happened.  Overall the characters are likable, each with a very interesting back story.  The ending will not let you down.

Robopocalypse (Robopocalypse #1) / Daniel H. Wilson / 368 pgs

I picked up this book because I heard that it was a lot like World War Z but with robots. That's true in some sense. Archos is the first sentient robot in a near future where robots are used in the military, for domestic work, and for factory work. Archos quickly kills the scientist who makes him and sets about with the destruction of mankind. The book is written from the perspective of a man, Cormac Wallace, who was there when Archos is finally defeated. He finds a box that contains video and audio from several different humans who were instrumental in bringing about the defeat of the robots. Cormac transcribes everything he sees and hears in order to create a record of the war for future generations.

I think in the end, I wasn't as impressed with the book as I had hoped I would be. Perhaps my hopes were too high? A book about an unstoppable force that the humans must try to stop in order to survive, written in the style of interviews and action caught on camera a la "World War Z" sounded pretty awesome, but that's pretty much where the comparison has to stop. There are too many mistakes in this book. It was sloppily written. If one decided to write down in a book everything they saw and heard from a box that recorded so much human and robot interaction, you would not write it down in the present tense. Also, if you are transcribing a person who was talking, that person would not be using SO MANY FREAKING ADJECTIVES in their speech. It just wasn't realistic. Unlike zombies, the idea of robots taking over the world is not nearly as far-fetched, so I wanted some realism. The only time I really felt like I got it was in the first chapter when Archos becomes sentient and interacts with his creator. After that, it was all downhill. Asimov remains the King of Robots, in my opinion. I won't be reading the sequel.

SCCCLD Reading Challenge for September

Last Blast before the Challenge Ends!
September Reading Challenge

Time to Exercise Your Voting Knowledge (almost)!

As we get closer to the November elections, expand your knowledge with a little Presidential and American History.
  Sometime during September find a great read about one of our founding fathers, a past president, a historic American figure or a historic event, and share your findings.


*Once again, this challenge is only good during September, 
so read early and read fast.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Heart and the Fist/ Eric Greitens / 309 pages

   This is an adult memoir about Eric Greitens experiences leading to becoming a Navy Seal.  I started this book to see how it would be different from the YA memoir.  The book was word for word the same except for extra chapters about deployment to the Philippines, Afghanistan, and Iraq.  Even though he added details about some missions, there was nothing in there about actual fighting, death, attacks, or secret operations.  Instead, he describes a "crossing the equator celebration" that navy men do. I am sure that he must have been in some dangerouse situations where he had to fire his gun or blow something up like he does in his commercial.  He still amazingly turns up with a connection to events like chasing the terrorists that had abducted Graciela Burnham earlier in the Philippines.  Another was that he finished his Seal training right after 9/11.
    His non-profit "The Mission Continues" is about getting veterans to volunteer somewhere after they come home so that they can re-connect and feel useful in society and move on with life.  The web site shows that there are groups in quite a few states.

The Warrior's Heart / Eric Greitens / 264 pages

     Missouri governor candidate Eric Greitens has written a YA memoir of how he became a Navy Seal.  Most of the book is the story of how he got there.
He started to travel as a volunteer after his freshman year in college.  He goes to China only a few years after Tiananmen square protest.  He actually gets pulled in by the police for talking with students about rights of free speech.
The next year, he goes to Bosnia (actually Croatia) to refugee camps as an observer.  He goes to Africa and Bolivia. Luckily, he can play soccer.  It's a universal game for kids.
     He goes to Cambridge on a Rhodes Scholarship and finally joins the Seals.
He really details the training.  He stops the narrative before deployment and then talks about his non-profit, the Mission Continues.
     If I heard about this in a novel, I would think that it was over the top like Forrest Gump showing up at all those historic moments.  However, it appears that Greitens really did do the things that he talks about. 

The Water Knife / Paolo Bacigalupi / 371 pages

This book takes place in an American future where the water is running out in the southwest.  California, Nevada, and Arizona are competing for the remaining water rights.  Cities that don't get the water will die.  People are desperately trying to reach any destination with water.  States patrol their borders to keep migrants out.  In the mix are companies, like vultures, preying on the weak and trying to get the water by any means.

Angel is a water knife.  He does whatever is necessary to secure water for his boss Catherine Case of Nevada.  She has created a habitat for the rich with unlimited water and climate control.  She needs to keep control of the water as do other competing groups.

This is a violent, dystopian book with lots of action.  The main characters are flawed (especially Angel), but you root for them anyway.  There is a lot of bad language in Spanish.  I truly hope that we never have a world like this, but I'm afraid it is already here in some other countries. 

Silver Swan / Benjamin Black 288 p.

The events of Christine Falls are two years in the past.  Quirke has moved on.  His daughter sees him for lunch on Tuesdays where they share a bottle of wine carefully portioned over the course of the meal as Quirke no longer the heavy drinker.  His curiosity draws him in when a old acquaintance, Billy Hunt, contacts him about his young wife's apparent suicide.  Things are revealed about Diedre that perhaps would be better off left uncovered and lead to danger to the ones he loves.  Her story along with the silver-tongued con man Leslie White are told in episodes as the characters become intertwined with Quirke and his family.  Quirke's family becomes an integral part of the story in the slow paced, mystery set in post-war Dublin.
Silver Swan / Benjamin Black 288 p.   Quirke mysteries no. 2            

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Log Cabin Quilts / Rita Weiss Linda Causee 160 p.

The log cabin quilt is expanded and amended to create unique variations.  Using the basic block, designs feature the Chicago skyline, New York remembered and gone fishin'.  Stars and curves may be added. Nine patch incorporated into the center square.  Interesting is the turning the center square on point and surrounding it with trapezoidal strips.
Log Cabin Quilts / Rita Weiss Linda Causee 160 p.

Monday, August 29, 2016

A Girl's Guide to Moving On/Debbie Macomber/339 pages

Nichole and her mother-in-law, Leanne, divorce their husbands who have been having affairs during their marriages.  This book tells of how they support each other as they "move on" with their lives.  The story is very predictable, the plot was shallow, and the characters seem very stereotypical - and not in a good way.  It wasn't one of Debbie Macomber's better works.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

First Star I See Tonight (Chicago Stars) / Susan Elizabeth Phillips 384 p.

Let me start by stating, "This is my favorite author!"  Susan Elizabeth Phillips's books are so fun to read!    First Star I See Tonight is the eighth book in the Chicago Stars Series.  Cooper Grant is a recently retired quarterback from the Chicago Stars football team who owns a night club and is looking to expand his investments.  Piper Dove is the daughter of the late Duke Dove who owned a detective agency.  Piper's father never wanted her in the business, but Piper has the bought the detective agency from her step-mother.  Her first big job is investigating Cooper Grant.  It's not long before Piper's cover is blow and now she's working for Cooper himself.  Sarcastic comments are being exchanged and the sparks are flying!

Wake: Dream Catcher #1/Lisa McMann/224 pages

I will definitely read the rest of this series. Wake follows a teenager who can see into other's dreams. Anytime she is in a room where someone is dreaming, she sees what they see. She is learning to help people control what they dream and rid themselves of terrible nightmares.

Port Chicago 50/Steve Sheinkin/208 pages

This is an interesting true story of African Americans in the Navy during World War II. After an explosion due to unsafe work conditions at Port Chicago, many men refused to go back to work. Fifty of these men, all African American, were charged with mutiny. This story tells of their fight and what changes were made in the U.S. military due to their courage.