Friday, January 30, 2015

KEEP READING

                                       Good Morning all you lovers of good books!!

I've missed you. My brother-in-law passed away. He lived in Tennessee and so I have been there attending his funeral and visiting with nieces and a nephew.

I am so thankful for the people who have become a follower of our book club. And, so thankful, as well, to those who have signed on to provide us with book reviews. Perhaps if you aren't on our contributor list you will want to join in. We'd all love to hear about your favorite books.

As for me, I am busy reading 'Gone Girl' (a requirement of my own local book club). So, when I finish I will be posting a review of that one. Can't wait to get finished as I want to see the movie, too... and it's on Movies on My Demand on tv. Gotta read the book first, you know!!

I hope all of you are staying warm and counting days to springtime.
              Oh how we hate the heat of summer, then as soon as it turns cold we want it back!!
                                              Some people just can't be satisfied. hehe.

                                                   Until Next Time... keep reading.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Law by Frédéric Bastiat

One of the shortest, yet for me most influential, books I have read is The Law, written by Frédéric Bastiat in 1850, shortly before his death.  Frédéric Bastiat was a member of the French Assembly, classical liberal theorist, and political economist.  

In The Law, Bastiat explains how the powers of society are derived from the God-given rights of man.  The purpose of law should be to institute justice.  An extension of the powers of government into philanthropy would, he posits, counter the primary purpose.  

Bastiat decries what he calls "legal plunder" and the tendency of legislatures to consider themselves wiser than the populace--except during election time.  

To date, this brief explanation of the role of government is the best I have encountered, and I recommend it to anyone interested in political science.  I enjoyed Bastiat's writing style thoroughly, and after reading The Law, went on to read every book and essay of his that I could find.

The Law is available in printed form at libraries and Amazon.com, and as a free ebook from Bastiat.org.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Anna Quindlen's "Still Life with Bread Crumbs"

It's been awhile since I've read a book by Anna Quindlen, so long in fact that she has quite a long list of books now that I haven't read.  I don't remember how I happened upon this one, but I'm glad I did. What a wonderful story!

The lead character Rebecca Winter is a famous photographer whose signature work is the title of this book.  She's in her 60s and finding it difficult to make ends meet what with supporting her parents one of whom has dementia and is in assisted living.  She also gets tapped by her adult son for funds.  She's squeezed from both sides with no inspiration for the next photo series.  She abandons expensive  New York City for the woods because she can sublet her apartment for big bucks and cheaply rent a rundown cottage in the woods. [Though Quindlen never says where it is, I'm thinking it's the Adirondacks.] She meets lots of characters, finds inspiration and makes friends.  One of my favorite characters is Sarah who runs the local tea shop and has troubles of her own including a scumbag for a husband.  Then there's the roofer Jim Bates who removes a raccoon from the attic beginning a friendship that will include sitting in a tree blind to photograph eagles.


Quindlen doesn't write the story with a linear progression of time.  There's a forward progress, then a backward progress then a look into the future as an aside and then back to the present.  It sounds strange but it works so well for this book.

Looking for a quick heartwarming read?  Pick up a copy of "Still Life with Bread Crumbs".

Marcia


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Fatal Justice..Book Two by Marie Force

Fatal Justice..Book Two by Marie Force




The story continues with Sam being sworn in for her new position as Lieutenant with the DC Police Dept and her love interest Nick is appointed interim Senator.
Sam is working on two cases a new murder on Capitol Hill of a Supreme Court nominee and the cold case involving her father being shot.

I do not want to say too much about the story line, I may give away too much of the story. I enjoyed the main characters, the romance and the secondary characters.  The humor and mystery make this Marie Force book a great read..

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

UPSTAIRS AT THE WHITEHOUSE

                                                                      by J. B. West


Who wouldn't love to know what goes on behind those closed doors in the private quarters at the White House!!

J. B. West had a bird's-eye view, so to speak and his book of those 3 decades serving the White House was enchanting, shocking, delightful, insightful.

Mr. West was usher, then Chief Usher for the Presidents and their ladies from Roosevelt all the way to Nixon. That's a lot of history, some we knew, some a surprise but glimpses into such news-worthy people's lives was fascinating. He told of Roosevelts long time affair, his last days before his death, his handling of WWII. And, his portrayal of Truman and his Bess told of a couple who never wished to be in that position but did the best that they could. Of course, there was the tragedy of Kennedy's assassination and the control Jackie maintains throughout it all.

In those years Mr. West took care of every aspect of life in the White House from state dinners to funerals and little family gatherings. He saw the President's parents, children, grandchildren and all the houseguests who loved staying at the White House.

The book was well written (with Mary Lynn Kotz) and worth a read.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Where are our Readers?

Our book club sure is needing some attention. Started off with a huge bang and then it fizzled.

If you read, please join and share with the rest of us your favorite book. It's easy, doesn't take much time and is fun. Just email me at wbarton102@aol.com and I will tell you how.

If you have asked for an invitation to join and haven't yet, We Are Waiting to see your smiling faces.

Monday, January 12, 2015

"Letters from Skye" by Jennifer Brockmole


If you were a fan of "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society", a most wonderful book, than you will like "Letters from Skye".  Set in two time periods WWI and WWII you follow two stories that are intertwined by reading letters from the characters involved.

As I first started this book I really thought that the author was trying too hard to be like the Guernsey book and I almost gave up on reading it.  But I hung in there and became absorbed in the story: in the mystery of what happened to the young man who went to war in the Great War and was never heard of again after being captured, and why the main character is estranged from her family on the Isle of Skye for all these years.

It has been awhile since I read it so the names of the characters escape me.  I do remember how it turned out, but won't reveal that and spoil the story for you.  I do know it's a book I would read again and may do so if my book club chooses to read it.


Sunday, January 11, 2015

Animal Farm

As an Iowan, I live in a state where pigs outnumber people by more than six to one. What would happen if they revolted? In his 1945 work, Animal Farm, George Orwell explores this possibility with the story of an animal revolt led by pigs on an English farm. 
Animal Farm is an allegory of the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the events that followed.  Orwell very cleverly portrays various types of people and the lies, schemes, and tricks used by evil leaders to retain popular support.  When those in power (whether pigs or people) rule for their own selfish ends, even the most well-intentioned, hardworking, and loyal suffer. 

This book takes only a few hours to read and has many good insights.  It's available in printed format at libraries and bookstores, and as a free ebook.

Do I foresee a similar revolution happening in Iowa?  Not during the winter months.  Iowa pigs are dependent on the warm climate of the propane-heated pig buildings and would never survive the sub-zero temperatures, so for now we're in the clear.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III


I cannot praise this book enough.  My daughter and I watched the movie, and were so struck by this powerful story, we wanted to read the book.  It instantly became one of my favorites of all time.  Dubus is such a literary genius, I was drawn to read everything he has written, and discovered in the process his equally talented father, Andre Dubus.  There could be no better tale to represent the trials we are going through in a very human way than this book, which was written in 1999, and foreshadows so much.  The book was runner up for the 1999 National  Book Award for Fiction.  I can't imagine what won over it that year.  It isn't a heavy, difficult read, but is extremely well-crafted.  And it has a huge heart, and makes you think about we as humans and the lives we have that touch briefly, with sometimes tragic consequences.  I hope you will read it....you will never be the same. (The movie is great too!)

Review written by Marie Carmean 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Fatal Affair by Marie Force

Fatal Affair by Marie Force





My nephew’s wife turned me onto Marie Force’s romantic suspense series. The first in a series Fatal Affair introduces the main character Washington DC Police female Detective Sam Holland. A few other great characters include Sam’s father and a rekindling of her love interest Nick Cappuano. I always enjoy a good mystery plot and in this case it was a friend of Nick’s the Senator John O’Connor who was murdered on the morning of an important vote. Nick is the chief of staff for the Senator who was murdered. This Senator’s murder turns out to be a great case for Sam and her career as a detective.  This mystery, romance and relationship between Sam and Nick keeps you turning the pages. I was hooked trying to decide who the murderer was.  It is a great read.

Eileen

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Marilyn Johnson's "Lives in Ruins"

Does that title grab you?  Sounds like a murder mystery or heart throb?  Well, here's the subtitle: "Archaeologists and the Seductive Lure of Human Rubble".  Probably not a book you'd readily pick up but I do recommend it.


I have a fascination with archaeology that goes back to grade school.  I even headed off to college thinking I would pursue that course but took another route instead.  My interest didn't wane and I have followed most stories about spectacular finds through the years.  I even subscribe to Archaeology, the magazine and get my bimonthly fix on what's happening in that world.  My husband knows of my interest and wisely selected this book for me for Christmas.  One I had heard of by way of an interview with the author on NPR.

Marilyn Johnson takes you on a dig, behind the scenes, and into all aspects of archaeology.  The nitty gritty so to speak.  It's not as glamorous a life as Indiana Jones would have us all believe.  Many archaeology majors never find jobs in the field because funding is tight and made tighter with government cutbacks in spending.  Others settle for contract work checking new sites for developers before shopping centers or buildings are constructed.  Others go into forensics and analyze crime scenes in the same manner that archaeology procedures require of ancient sites.

Johnson writing style is light and easy to read.  She makes me want to be there too but since I can't her description of her experiences is the next best thing.  I hope you'll look for "Life in Ruins" and tell me how you liked it.

Marcia

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Staying on Topic is Hard

Can a book written by a multilingual homeschooled woman with six siblings--who spent her teen years in Malaysia with her family, went to college and beauty school in the United States, married a Hispanic man named Angel (known to answer his work phone with "This is the Incredible Hulk, may I help you?"), and now lives and works in China as an ESL teacher--be uninteresting? 

The short answer is "No."  Rachel Guerrero's ebook Staying on Topic is Hard will inspire and entertain you.  
There's something for everyone to identify with as Rachel recalls stories from her life.  You'll learn about doorbell phobia, cockroaches, life as a newlywed, how God answers prayers, living abroad, and how to write a love letter to your microwave.  Rachel also addresses whether correct spelling is a genetic trait, how love can mean a hamburger from Culvers, and what matters most: God and people, not things.

Staying on Topic is Hard is available at Smashwords.  You can also visit Rachel's blog at The Random Writings.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Rocket Boys by Homer Hickam


I will begin our book club with a book I read a while back and truly enjoyed:


Many of you have seen the movie October Sky but if you are looking for a wonderful read, the book of this true story, Rocket Boys (also called October Sky) by Homer Hickam is a great choice.  It not only gives you insight into the difficult lives of the members of a coal mining town community back in the late 50s and early 60s, it also tells about a boy's struggle to make his dreams come true.  Not only will you be inspired by Buddy and his friends, you will also never forget the strong characters of his Dad, Homer Hickam Sr. and his Mom, Elsie Lavender Hickam.  Homer Hickam Jr. (Buddy) became one of my favorite authors after this read, and I have gone on to enjoy several of his other books.  He is a wonderful inspiration always!

Review written by Marie Carmean...

Now it's your turn!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

'The Pecan Man'


As this Book Club takes off on it's first flight, I thought I'd begin with a review of a book I recently read. 'The Pecan Man' was written by Cassie Dandridge Selleck.


 
I was busy skimming through some books listed on Amazon suitable for book club members when I ran across this book. The title caught my attention right away. So, I asked my book club here at the apartments if they'd like to read it and so we did. Our discussion on this book will be this coming Monday at our meeting.
 
'The Pecan Man' was the first place winner in a 2006 Florida State writing completion.
 
It's a story about a homeless black man who is hired by a white widow to care for her lawn. As the tale progresses, there is a murder victim found near where the Pecan Man camps out in the woods.
He is arrested.
 
There's some unexpected twists and turns. In a day when blacks and whites were on different social planes, the widow befriends The Pecan Man. She sees in him what others do not. When the story really grabbed hold of me (almost halfway through) I could not put the book down. When I read the last page and closed the book, I was sad that there wasn't more... another page, another book.
 
Being set in the south, it's sort of a mixture of 'To Kill A Mockingbird' and 'The Help'. If you enjoyed either of those books I know you will love this book.
 
On Amazon there were 945 reviews for this book. I looked at a number of them and was not surprised to find that the reviews I saw were glowing and most complimentary to the author.
 
It's a doggone good read!
 
Who will be our next book club contributor?