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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens narrated by Zack Villa

The Life We BuryThe Life We Bury by Allen Eskens

I was hooked by the "dread" Joe described in the first line. When I realized that he was a college student who had procrastinated in beginning an assignment, Eskens character development skills and choice of Joe as first person narrator were hints that this first novel would be good.

Joe Talbert waited so long to begin his assignment that options for finding a subject were limited. He has to interview a stranger who led an interesting life and write a short biography of that stranger for his English class.

(Note: I want to give him a little forgiveness for his procrastination because he is a very responsible brother to Jeremy whose special needs require Joe to intervene when his mother's alcoholism threatens Jeremy's safety.)

Carl Iverson becomes Joe's subject. Carl is in a nursing home. He has been paroled there after 50 years in prison for the murder of a 14-year-old girl. And, he is dying. He led an interesting life. The biography that Joe writes is not short.

I could not stop listening. It is a wonderful first novel. I hope to read more stories from this new author..

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All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, narrated by Zack Appleman

All the Light We Cannot SeeAll the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a beautifully crafted story. With the Nazis occupying Paris, young blind Marie-Laure flees with her patient and protective father to Saint-Malo. Orphan Werner, expert at building and fixing radios, winds up in a brutal academy for Hitler Youth. Their separate and complex paths create the story's tension.

Saying more would spoil the story. Order take-out for the next day or two and read it.

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Prayers for Sale by Sandra Dallas

Prayers for SalePrayers for Sale by Sandra Dallas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hennie Comfort is 86 years old when Nit Spindle gazes at a sign on her fence advertising "Prayers for Sale." And so begins an enduring friendship in the high country of the Colorado mountains in 1936. Among the gold-mining dredges, brutal winters, and numbing poverty they share the heartbreaks and hardships of their lives. And, they enjoy the sisterhood of the Ten Mile Quilters.

Their story is the result of excellent research by Sandra Dallas. I enjoyed her attention to detail and her use of speech patterns that would have prevailed at the time. This story is as warm and comforting as a pair of lovingly handmade socks. I loved it.

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My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Amos Decker, a new character created by David Baldacci, has a perfect memory. Two life-changing events have left him on the street, taking odd jobs as a private detective. The first was a professional football injury that resulted in his rare ability to remember every detail of everything. The second was the murder of his wife and daughter.

Decker, a former police detective now grief-stricken, hangs on by a thread. He had me hanging with him as he slowly finds his way back.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, narrated by Polly Stone

The NightingaleThe Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is war through the eyes of sisters Vianne, whose husband goes reluctantly to the front to fight the Nazis, and of Isobel, a rebellious 18-year-old whose behavior is a problem. The story presents an absorbing view of the gradual manipulation of the French by fascists during World War II. The sisters carry the story and show readers how durable women are and how love endures as they make hard choices to stay alive.

Mycroft Holmes by Kareem Abdul Jabbar

Mycroft HolmesMycroft Holmes by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Although I am playing "catch-up" with several posts today, I cannot let this one from April go without a review. Clever, interesting and entertaining, Mycroft Holmes is a mystery that I might read again! Mycroft, it turns out, has excellent skills and can hold his own in a fight.
The Harmonious Fists are pretty amazing.

Highly recommended

Monday, February 15, 2016

'A Ha' Moments

Hannah spent the night on Wednesday. She has outgrown the portable crib.

'A Ha' Moment #1.  After weeks of fretting about where she would sleep when she was here for her much-anticipated overnight visit, the purchase of an inflatable mattress (still in the box), a cottage-like tent to make it fun to sleep on (still in the box) and a couple of travel locks for the doors to keep her from wandering into the building hallway or onto the patio in the middle of the night (easily removed by her in record time), the simple solution was sleeping with her on the sofa bed in the den. I made up the bed while she was busy playing office at my desk. When she came into the den, her jaw dropped. She had no idea that her favorite sofa could be transformed into a sofa bed. She hopped right in clothes and all! 

'A Ha' Moment #2.  The next morning, while she was putting her pajamas back on (having decided that she would be a sofa bed potato all morning), I turned on "Bubble Guppies" in the living room because it was playing in the den in an effort to coax her into some breakfast. When she came out to get back in bed to watch, she stood in the doorway between the den and the living room looking from one television to the other. She looked like she was watching a tennis match. Then I heard "Nana, Nana, look." as she excitedly pointed to each TV. The smile on her face was priceless as she realized that the sets could play the same show at the same time! And then, she had breakfast in bed - the sofa bed.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Merry Christmas Alex Cross by James Patterson

Merry Christmas, Alex Cross (Alex Cross, #19)Merry Christmas, Alex Cross by James Patterson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Alex, Sampson, Nana Momma, Brie and the kids are all familiar characters in this favorite detective/suspense series. Maybe it's the warm and loving home setting that makes the crimes Alex and Sampson tackle palatable. Or maybe it's the feeling of being an insider on their team and in Alex's family, but, whatever it is, I love this series.

Merry Christmas Alex Cross started small on Christmas Eve and ended big by New Year's Eve. Along the way not one, but four situations required Alex's attention. The last two were complicated and related. I listened to the audio book without checking on the chapter count, so it was easy to feel real relief as the first problem concluded and think that Alex was done for the night. But, no, the calls to duty on Christmas Eve just kept snowballing.

Sampson is Sampson. Nana Momma wields guilt like a sword. Alex employs his valuable skills with wit and humor. The family is warm, loving and patient. Knitted together, they all gave me a feeling of comfort, joy and good humor in the face of unnerving crimes.

Highly recommended with a shiver and a smile.

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