ARCHIVES

 

2017:

A GENTLEMAN IN MOSCOW 

Amor Towles 

 

MY RATING ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 

PUBLISHERViking/Penguin Audio 

PUBLISHEDSeptember 6, 2016 

NARRATORNicholas Guy Smith 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SUMMARY 

In 1922, Count Alexander Rostov has been deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal. The Count is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of  erudition and wit has never worked a day in his life and must now live in one of the abandoned servant’s room in the hotel’s attic. His reduced circumstances lead him to world of emotional discovery and a deeper understanding to what it means to be a man of purpose.  

 

REVIEW 

A GENTLEMAN IN MOSCOW is a beautiful work of art and needs to be enjoyed very slowly.  Each and every page offers delightful images, evocative ideas and enthralling characters. AMOR TOWLES writing is in a word: fabulous.  The references to Russian literature, culture and history are enlightening. Despite being confined within the walls of the Metropol Hotel for over thirty years, Count Alexander Rostov remains a true gentleman.  He is a chivalrous, courteous, and an honorable man who saw the best in everyone and everything. You’ll want him for a friend of your own! This book has so much to offer, I highly recommend it. One of the best books I have read this year. I listened to the Audible version of the book and enjoyed the narration by Nicholas Guy Smith immensely. His voice gave the story breath. 

 

“Who would have imagined, he said, “when you were sentenced to life in the Metropol all those years ago, that you had just become the luckiest man in all of Russia.” 

 

A GENTLEMAN in MOSCOW receive the Goodreads choice award for historical fiction in 2016 and one of Amazon Best Books of 2016 in fiction.  

A Piece of the World 

Christina Baker Kline 

  

MY RATING       ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 

PUBLISHER       William Morrow 

PUBLISHED       February 21, 2017 

 

A beautifully lyrical but profound novel about family, friendships, passion and art.  

SUMMARY

Andrew Wyeth painted an iconic work of art in 1948 titled Christina's World. The painting shows a young dark haired woman in a pink dress lying twisted in a green field and gazing up longingly at a old grey weather beaten farmhouse in the distance. What's the backstory to this artwork? Who was Christina?  A PIECE OF THE WORLD is a work of fiction which chronicles the brave but simple life of Christina Olsen.   

 

We first meet Christina in 1896, as a young girl of three, on her sickbed with a fever.  It was an illness she never fully recovered from, it affected the muscles and bones in her legs.  While she could walk it was painful and she was never totally in control of her leg muscles. She lurched as she walked and would often trip on uneven ground. She faced many challenges growing up: poverty, disability, ridicule and limited education.  At a young age Christina was forced to quit school to help her mother and grandmother with the many responsibilities around the farm. She cooked, cleaned, laundered, gathered eggs and eventually took care of her ailing parents.  She never complained about her pain or her responsibilities. Until she was introduced to a new friend, Walton, her only companions were her three brothers Alvaro, Sam and Fred.   

 

Christina was smart, shy, stubborn, courageous and full of perseverance.  But broken dreams and promises follow Christina.  She never marries and continues to live in the farmhouse, with Alvaro, her younger brother.  She is a very private, proud and resourceful woman.  

 

One summer day in 1939, Andrew Wyeth and Betsy James, a neighbor girl who soon becomes his wife, drive up to the farmhouse in an old station wagon. Wyeth, who is twenty-two is enthralled with the old dilapidated farmhouse, he wants to paint it. "I'll bet I could paint it for a hundred years and never get tired of it." he says. He asks Christina if he can use an upstairs bedroom for painting.  The lighting is perfect.  Christina and Wyeth become friends, spending time together sharing stories over pie at the kitchen table.   It's a friendship of shared perils, values and understanding. She is old enough to be his mother, yet in the iconic painting he affectionately portrays her as much younger woman.  

 

"The truth is, this place--this house, this field, this sky--may only be a small piece of the world. But Betsey's right: it is the entire world to me." 

 

 

REVIEW 

Christina Baker Kline's atmospheric writing evoked a peaceful feeling as I read this book.  A feeling and a book that I didn't want to end.  Christina's character breathes in this book, she was at times stubborn, angry, spiteful and frustrated, and at other times happy, nostalgic, emboldened and proud. I felt empathy for this portrayal of the life of Christina Olsen.  The chapters in A PIECE OF THE WORLD creatively alternate between Christina's interaction with Wyeth, and Christina's life story.  The organization of the story in the book is simply masterful.  Kline's writing is beautifully lyrical and yet profound.   

 

With this novel, Wyeth's painting, Christina's World comes to life.  A girl who wanted more, dreamt of more, but has come to peace with her world as it is, a simple life in the farmhouse on the hill.  While a work of fiction, this story make sense overlaid with this painting.  I loved Kline's creativity in creating a backstory full of emotion and interaction.  The Author Notes at the end of the book are a must read, and have in fact, motivated me to read more about the real Christina Olsen and Andrew Wyeth. 

 

Christina Baker Kline is an award winning American novelist.  She is the author of seven novels, including the New York Times  bestselling novel Orphan Train.   

 

"He did get one thing right: Sometimes a sanctuary, sometimes a prison, that house on the hill has always been my home. I've spent my life yearning toward it, wanting to escape it, paralyzed by its hold on me." 

ALEXANDER HAMILTON 

RON CHERNOW 

 

MY RATING      ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 

PUBLISHER      Penguin Audio Books 

PUBLISHED      January 19, 2005 

NARRATOR      Scott Brick 

 

An illuminating, riveting and readable biography of a remarkable man who helped form our republic.  

 

SUMMARY 

A dramatic saga detailing the life and times of one of the most important figures in America’s birth. Chernow presents the entire sweep of Hamilton's life.  Included are details about his early upbringing, his military, legal and financial trials and his dramatic feuds with Jefferson, Madison, Adams and Monroe.  The biography also details his close relationships with Eliza Hamilton and George Washington, his illicit affair with Maria Reynolds, and his famous duel with Aaron Burr in July 1804, resulting in his untimely death.  

 

REVIEW 

I absolutely loved this biography; by far one of the best I have ever read.  RON CHERNOW’s biographical writing is powerful and masterful.  It's vivid, evocative, and immensely enlightening. This comprehensive book is jammed with facts, historical writings, and tremendous research.  You want to read it carefully and slowly so not to miss a thing.   

 

I listened to the audio version of ALEXANDER HAMILTON which came alive with the voice of Scott Brick, who did a fabulous job on a 36 hour narration.   The book contains over 800 pages. ALEXANDER HAMILTON has received the George Washington Book Prize in 2005 and the National Book Critics Circle Award for Biography in 2004.  Well deserved!  

BEFORE WE WERE YOURS 

LISA WINGATE 

 

 

MY RATING      ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 

PUBLISHER      Ballantine Books 

PUBLISHED      June 6, 2017 

NARRATOR      Emily Rankin and Catherine Taber 

 

BEFORE WE WERE YOURS is a thought-provoking and masterfully-told story of a family torn apart by one unscrupulous woman.   

 

SUMMARY 

In Memphis 1939, 12 year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live happily on her family’s Mississippi River shanty boat called the Arcadia. But one stormy evening Rill’s father has to rush her pregnant mother to the hospital. In the morning Rill spots a policeman on the river bank approaching the boat. She doesn't know what to do.  Ultimately she is left with no decision but to take her siblings and go with the policeman. They are thrown into the hand of Georgia Tan and the Tennessee Children's Home Society and their lives were never the same.  

 

In Aiken, SC 2016, Avery Stafford, a successful federal prosecutor has returned home to help her father, a U. S. senator weather a health crisis.  Avery was born into wealth and privilege  and is engaged to  her handsome childhood friend. A chance encounter with a women resident  at a nursing home has her curiosity bubbling.  When she asks her Grandma Jane about the mysterious woman, she hears the name Arcadia for the first time.  But what is Arcadia, a place, a person or something else?  Avery is compelled to find if there is a connection between her family and this lonely woman in the nursing home.      

 

REVIEW 

Everyone should read this book to ensure we all learn from the mistakes of the past. This story is fiction, but is based on one of America's most notorious real-life scandals. Georgia Tann, who was director of the Tennessee Children's Home Society, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country from the 1920-50’s.  LISA WINGATE’s writing is fabulous and the story which she has creatively woven is both gut-wrenching and riveting.  Reading BEFORE WE WERE YOURS is like floating in the rushing currents of the Savannah River, it’s fast and fabulous.  It’s a book you will be thinking about long after you turn the last page. Make sure you read the author note at the end too! It’s powerful and maddening!   

 

I listened to the Audible version of the book and the narrators Emily Rankin and Catherine Taber were superb and gave breath to the story. 

Beneath A Scarlet Sky 

Mark Sullivan 

 

 

MY RATING      ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 

PUBLISHER      Lake Union Publishing 

PUBLISHED      May 1, 2017 

 

Masterful tale of a young man’s courageous struggle to fight for the greater good during the Nazi occupation of Milan during World War II.  

SUMMARY 

Although a work of fiction this novel is based on a true story with a real hero. At the heart of the story is a normal seventeen-year-old Italian boy named Pino Lella.  He is obsessed with music, finding a girl, and falling in love.  But then in 1943, the bombs start dropping on Milan and his family home is destroyed.  His parents send him to a camp in the mountains to escape the bombardment and the occupation. While in the mountains he guides Jewish refugees across rugged terrain to the Swiss border. When he returns to Milan his parents surprisingly insist that he voluntarily join the German army in order to avoid the draft and having to fight on the front lines. Pino’s role in the army as a driver for a high ranking German general, allows him to witness significant events during the war. Pino uses these opportunities to spy for the partisans until the war ends in 1945.  

 

REVIEW 

This is an unforgettable, authentic story of courage, love and forgiveness. Mark Sullivan’s amazing writing transports us to Milan in 1943 where he has captured the fear and anguish of the turbulent times.  This epic novel is steeped in personal accounts of events, and as a result the details, dialogs and emotions  are mesmerizing. Sullivan’s opportunity to interview the seventy-year old Pino Lella allowed Pino’s character in the book to come to life. Beneath A Scarlet Sky is full of ups and downs, trials and triumphs and love and heartbreak. I highly recommend it to anyone who appreciates historical fiction. This is one of my very favorite books of 2017. 

DARK MATTER 

Blake Crouch 

 

 

MY RATING      ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 

PUBLISHER      Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group 

PUBLISHED      July 26, 2016 

 

SUMMARY 

Jason Dessen has a great life in Chicago. He is in love with his beautiful wife, Daniela, and has a great teenage son. He's a bright college professor of physics with lots of career potential.  His wife, Daniela, is a artist and an art instructor. One night, Jason goes out for a drink with a friend at a neighborhood bar. On the way home he is kidnapped by a man in a mask and left unconscious at an abandon power plant. 

 

When he wakes up, the kidnapper is gone and he is surrounded by people he doesn't know.  His life is not what it was.  He soon discovered his wife and son are no longer a part of his life. How can that be? Is this for real? He only wants to find a way back to his family.  

 

REVIEW 

I am not a huge science-fiction fan but I loved this thriller. I found it hard to put down, and yet wanted to pace myself so it wouldn't end to soon. We all wonder about the path not taken.   DARK MATTER takes it to a whole new level. What would you do to get back to your family? 

 

DARK MATTER will give you new perspective about your life. It will thrill you, it will scare you, but most of all it will make you think. If you like science-fiction, of course you would love this book.  But really, anyone who wants to read something a little different would love it as well.  It's got suspense,  action, science-fiction and drama. 

 

The audio version of this book is narrated by Jon Lindstrom, who does a fabulous job.  I highly recommend the audio edition. The author, BLAKE CROUCH, has done a brilliant job writing this book. Crouch is also the author of the Wayward Pines trilogy, which is also a TV series on Fox.  Couch is currently writing the screenplay for DARK MATTER.  

LINCOLN IN THE BARDO 

GEORGE SAUNDERS 

 

 

MY RATING      ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 

PUBLISHER     Random House Audio 

PUBLISHED     February 14, 2017 

 

"Like nothing else I've ever read. It kept me on my toes and had my head spinning. Engaging!" 

 

SUMMARY 

On perhaps a moonlit night, February 1862 with the Civil War less than a-year-old, Mrs. Lincoln gives a large decadent state reception.  But upstairs Willie Lincoln, the presidents beloved 11-year-old son, lies gravely ill with fever. Within days he is dead. 

 

"We have loved each other well, dear Willie, but now, for reasons we cannot understand, that bond has been broken. But our bond can never be broken. As long as I live you will always be with me, child." 

 

He was laid to rest on a rainy afternoon in a borrowed crypt in the northwest corner of the old cemetery adjoining Rock Creek. Not long after arriving there Willie makes the acquaintance of others in the Bardo-that place that exists between two lives. A purgatory on earth. These others he encounters were mothers, fathers, husbands and wives, they were ghosts. But there were two men of note, that were of great assistance to young Willie, helping him find his way, Hans Vollman and Roger Bevins.  Although everyone in the Bardo, and their were many, wanted to meet the president's son.  

 

"What I mean to say is, we had been considerable. Had been loved. Not lonely, not lost, not freakish, but wise, each in his own way. Our departures caused pain." 

 

But children don't usually tarry in this in between place, this haunted place. It was only Willie's strong-will and his desire to see his father again, that kept him in the Bardo. A devastated President Lincoln returns to the cemetery alone several times during this horrendous night to visit with his son, and ponder the immense toil of the war he was leading. 

 

"He's just one. And the weight of it about to kill me. Have exported this grief. Some three thousand times. So far. To date. A mountain. Of boys. Someone's boys. Must keep on with it. May not have the heart for it." 

 

How does one keep going on, keep living, when all that we know,  and all that we love die in the end.  

 

REVIEW 

A book like no other. It's form is unique and variable. Part history, part invention. Part reference, part play.  Lincoln in the Bardo is humorous, satirical and audacious. It must be read multiple times to truly savor this literary masterpiece. 

 

This may well be my favorite book for 2017. I first listened to the audiobook, and couldn't quite grasp what was happening in the beginning. Historically references tied to a work of fiction, It was intriguing. But by the end, I was in love. So I started the audiobook over again.   I know I didn't get it all the first time. It was even better the second time around. The 166 narrators, which is surely the largest audiobook cast ever, did a fabulous job. I even recognized many of them-Julianne Moore, Ben Stiller, David Sedaris, and Nick Offerman. It was like listening to a play.  The multitude of voices brought the ghosts in the cemetery to life.  But I wasn't finished with Lincoln in the Bardo yet. I had to have the physical book.  I wanted to touch the haunting cover, and gaze at the layout of each of the 108 unique chapters.  I felt the need to recount the names of those men and women still in the bardo, and peruse the factual references of Lincoln's tumultuous time as our sixteenth president. So as I write this review I am reading it once again. 

 

It's a soulful and moving book.  I laughed, I cried and I laughed and I cried.  Read it and listen to it.  You have to do both!  You could even do it at the same time! 

LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE  

Celeste Ng 

 

MY RATING      ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 

PUBLISHER      Penguin Press 

PUBLISHED      September 12, 2017 

 

A brilliantly crafted story, set in the meticulously planned Shaker Heights community, which captures the intertwined lives of two distinctly different families, and insightfully explores mother and daughter relationships.  

 

SUMMARY 

Small crackling fires were set directly in the middle of three beds in the Richardson’s idyllic home located in the carefully crafted community of Shaker Heights.   By the time the fires were out nothing was left but the brick shell of the what had been a beautiful six bedroom house. The novel goes back in time to reveal the story behind who set the fires and why.   Elena and Bill Richardson have four not so perfect teenage children: Lexie, Tripp, Moody and Izzy. All are in high school, One in each grade, with Lexie being the oldest and a senior and  Izzy, the youngest and a freshman.   

 

Almost a year earlier, a new tenant moved into the Richardson’s rental house.  Mia Warren, a nomadic artist, and her bright fifteen-year-old daughter Pearl, are soon embedded and embroiled with the Richardson family. Pearl has always wanted to feel like she belonged and with the help of Moody, the Richardson  family welcomed her with open arms.  The Richardson children were also drawn to the wisdom of the unconventional Mia, but none more than Izzy.  In Mia, Izzy  who was never good enough at home, finally found someone who understood her. Izzy adored Mia.   

 

A custody battle soon disrupts the harmony of the Shaker Heights community when good friends of the Richardson’s attempt to adopt a Chinese American baby. Mirabella is wanted by both her Chinese immigrant mother, and the rich   McCullough’s who have raised her since she was left at a fire station. Mia and Elena find themselves deeply entrenched on opposite sides of the battle. Elena, suspicious of Mia’s position is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia past. But  her quest for Mia’s secrets may have devastating consequences.   

 

REVIEW 

LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE is an riveting page-turner and the character development is superb.  Not just for the major characters, but even the minor characters  are brought to life. CELESTE NG exposes family dynamics and teenage angst that will have us questioning whether we truly know or understand our own family’s secrets.  

 

One of the several themes in this engaging novel is mother-daughter relationships. NG expertly reveals dysfunctional relationship between Elena and Izzy, and Mia and Pearl and even Mia and her own mother.  This mother-daughter theme is further expanded with the custody battle and the debate of which mother would be best for Mirabella.  And it also here that the theme of race is also brought into the picture with the complex issue of whether a white couple can adequately raise an Asian-American child, or whether the struggling Asian birth mom is unfit because she left her daughter at a fire station. Lexie, whose boyfriend is black, thinks they are very lucky in Shaker Heights because “No one sees race here.” But is that really true? 

 

Fans of CELESTE NG will adore this book as will readers who enjoy great character development and a story about family dynamics  I am rushing to the store now to grab NG’s 2014 novel - Everything I Never Told You.  

THE BOOK THIEVES: 

The Nazi Looting of Europe's Libraries and the Race to Return a Literary Inheritance 

Anders Rydell 

 

MY RATING      ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 

PUBLISHER      PENGUIN GROUP Viking 

PUBLISHED      February 7, 2017 

SUMMARY 

THE BOOK THIEVES is much more than the story of the Nazi pillaging of Europe's libraries.  Anders Rydell explores the evolution of the Nazi ideology and the men behind the destruction of  the literary culture of the Third Reich's "internal enemies".    Rydell explores how and why the German mandate shifted from destruction to the confiscation of valuable books for the purpose of ideological research and evaluation.  

 

"What is more frightening, a totalitarian regimes destruction of knowledge or it's hankering for it?" 

 

THE BOOK THIEVES gives us a glimpse into some of the treasures of the greatest library collections of Poland, Amsterdam, Paris, Rome, and Greece.  By The end of the war millions upon millions of books had been destroyed or confiscated.  Trains overflowing with crates of books from all over Europe were transported to Germany.   And only a short time later these books were appropriated by the Soviet Trophy Brigades. The looted library collections were repeatedly sorted, divided, and scattered, never to be reassembled again.  

 

Rydell shares the many challenges of library reclamation and restitution.  He tells us some of the unique deals and exchanges that have been brokered by various countries to get back even small segments of their collections.  Rydell personally visits many of the places where books are being catalogued, and he introduces us to the people who attempt to find the descendants of these orphaned books. Rydell even plays a part in the return of a small green book which had been plundered from a family apartment in Berlin.  

  

REVIEW 

I loved THE BOOK THIEVES, but it broke my heart. It is the story of lost intellect and memories.  You may think you know what happened, but Rydell makes it real. The book is about the  treasures that were lost between 1933 and 1945. As you read you can almost feel the half-inch bullet hole in the top left corner of the small light-brown leather-bound book, or smell the millions of damp and rotting books found in a church attic in 1990.  

 

THE BOOK THIEVES gives us an understanding of the number of books that were destroyed, stolen and lost and it will knock you off your feet.  THE BOOK THIEVES gives us an understanding of the plans for the confiscated books and it will scare you.  THE BOOK THIEVES gives us an understanding of the politics behind the reclamation and it will make you mad.   

 

The breadth of background that this book covers is very impressive and enlightening. The book contains over 400 footnotes.  It appears to be well documented by Rydell's interviews, his research and his personal visits.  

 

Fans of the Monuments Men would love this book.  This book should be read by anyone with a passion for books, or for books about books.  

 

"But it was not solely a war of physical extermination, it was also a battle for memory and history." 

 

Thanks to PENGUIN GROUP Viking and NetGalley for an advanced reading copy of The Book Thieves in exchange for an honest review.  

THE MEMORY PAINTER 

Gwendolyn Womack 

  

MY RATING      ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 

PUBLISHER      Picador 

PUBLISHED      May 2015 

 

SUMMARY 

Ryan Pierce is a reclusive, but internationally known artist.  His skills and success as an artist are renown, and the images he paints comes from his dreams. His studio walls are covered in paintings to numerous to count. Each painting more vivid than the next, captures a different time in history, a different place and each depict an intimate moment in a person's life or death. Because he can remember intricate details and feelings Brian believes these dreams may actually be flashbacks to other lives he may have lived. He hopes that showing his works to others, may lead him to answers about the meaning of dreams.   

 

Linz Jacobs is a Nuero-geneticist at Medicor, one of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies. She is currently decoding the DNA genes for memories.  While attending an art opening, at some friends' gallery, Linz recognizes the scene in one of Brian's paintings as exactly that of a haunting recurring childhood nightmare she had had. It was a chilling scene of a beautiful woman being burned at the stake while a priest, prisoners and guards look on. The details captured her dream so accurately she needed an explanation. She absolutely has to meet the artist. Upon meeting, Brian and Linz have an instant and intense connection.  Brian believes that Linz may be able to help him unlock the meaning behind these dreams. 

 

But meeting Linz has triggered another intense and harrowing dream for Brian. It's a horrific explosion in a research lab where a team of scientists were just on the verge of discovering a cure for Alzheimer's. Several of the scientists were killed. The research project was destroyed. Brian is driven to find out more about this project. Linz know nothing about this research. Working together, Bryan and Linz try to find a key to explain Bryan's dreams.  But it may not be so easy. Someone is trying to prevent them from getting to close to the truth.  

 

REVIEW 

This is no ordinary book. THE MEMORY PAINTER is a complex story which is beautifully crafted into an easy-to-read novel.  It's a novel containing historical fiction, a medical thriller, science fiction, time travel and romance, all woven together in a unique and captivating way. I can't stop talking about this book, and yet it's so hard to adequately describe. It must be read. I was telling all my friends about this novel before I was even halfway through it. I was also scouring the Internet for clues on whether the historical people and events were real.  

 

Brian and Linz's characters are strong and well-developed. You can't help but pull for them.  Their story will stretch your imagination and keep you guessing. It is filled with twists, turns, betrayal, love and hope.  And travel.  Brian's dreams takes him from a duel in Russia in 1837,  to a samurai performing seppuku in Japan in 1702,  to a Viking exploration in Greenland in 986 and to a monastery in China in 527.  It sounds crazy, but it all make sense and you can't help but want more.   

 

A instrumental portion of the story centers around the Alzheimer's research project from 1982. Womack, creatively uses excerpts from one of the scientist's research journals to tell the story of the project, the team and the project results. The journals help give authenticity Brian's dreams.  

 

GWENDOLYN WOMACK does a fabulous job weaving the story in her debut novel.   THE MEMORY PAINTER was the winner of the 2016 RWA PRISM award in the time travel/steampunk category and a finalist for best first novel. Her second novel will be released in June 2017 and I for one can't wait.  Thanks to Serna at Heath and Soul for the recommendation.  

The Wonder 

Emma Donoghue 

 

My Rating.     ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 

 

Publisher        Little, Brown and Company 

Published       September 20, 2016 

 

"Anna O'Donnell claims --or, rather, her parents claim--that she hasn't taken food since her eleventh birthday."     

 

SUMMARY 

Lib Wright, an English nurse is brought to a small Irish village in the Irish Midlands in the 1850's to observe what appears to be a miracle. A girl is said to have survived without food for four months.  The nurse is committed to uncovering the fraud, but soon finds herself fighting to save the girl's life.  

 

Eleven-year-old Anna O'Donnell believes herself to be living off manna from heaven. Hordes of tourist flock to the house everyday to see the living marvel.  Lib, the parents, a nun, the village priest, Anna's doctor, and a journalist all play a crucial role in this powerful psychological thriller.  

 

THE WONDER intricately weaves a tale of two strangers who transform each other's lives, and a story of truth pitted against evil. 

 

REVIEW 

Is it a extraordinary wonder or is it a hoax? Could it be both?  Lib barrels into the tiny village so sure she knows that it's a hoax that you don't know whether to be impressed by her confidence or annoyed with her arrogance.  Her character was strong; she stood up, she spoke up and she fought for the truth. As a Nightingale nurse she was taught "it's better to drown, than stand idly on the shore."   

 

Anna an 11-year-old soft faced girl, who is humble, smart, prayerful and clever.  Was she a living marvel?  Could she be "false little baggage."  Why weren't her parent doing something to make her eat?  What about the motivations of the priest or the doctor? Is anyone really seeking the truth?   So many questions to be unraveled.  To Anna, the truth may be not simple.  

 

Donahue's inspiration for The Wonder comes from some fifty cases in the British Isles, Western Europe and North America of so-called "fasting girls" between the16th and 20th century.  Some of these girls claimed religious motives although many didn't.   

 

The Wonder was thought-provoking and engaging.  The setting, the story, and the characters all combined to captivate me from page one.  

  

"Clearly the Irish Midlands were a depression where wet pooled, the little circle in a saucer."   

WHAT HAPPENED 

Hillary Rodham Clinton 

 

MY RATING      ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 

PUBLISHER      Simon & Schuster 

PUBLISHED      September 12, 2017 

 

A powerful and evocative biography of Hillary Clinton the person, and her 2016 groundbreaking campaign to become the first woman President of the United States. 

 

SUMMARY 

Hillary showed tremendous strength and courage in the 2016 election, and she doubled down on these qualities by writing this compelling post-campaign analysis. She identified her challenges and takes responsibility for her decisions in the controversial campaign. She details her thought process in her decision to run, her challenges in the primary campaign with Bernie Sanders, and her failure to adapt to Donald Trump’s gorilla tactics. She discusses the email issue, the FBI investigation, James Comey, the media, Putin’s interference, Russian hacking, sexism, fake news and many other issues. She was the most competent democratic nominee to ever run for the presidency, her version of what happened in the campaign, is an important part of history that we can and should all learn from.  Not just because the most competent candidate lost, but because most importantly, the integrity of our election process and in fact, our democracy was compromised in many ways.  

 

“I never imagined that he [Putin] would have the audacity to launch a massive covert attack against our own democracy, right under our noses -- and that he'd get away with it." 

 

"I think it's fair to say that I didn't realize how quickly the ground was shifting under all our feet. I was running a traditional presidential campaign with carefully thought-out policies and painstakingly built coalitions, while Trump was running a reality TV show that expertly and relentlessly stoked Americans' anger and resentment." 

 

REVIEW 

WHAT HAPPENED is a honest and enlightening book, not only about the campaign but about next steps for all of us. It’s about moving forward and healing the division in this country. Hillary is a brilliant writer who eloquently reveals her most personal thoughts during one of the most challenging times of her life. I listened to the Audible book and hearing it in her voice was just perfect.  This intimate review of Hillary’s experiences will serve as a tremendous guidebook for us all, but perhaps particularly for the young women who desire to follow in her footsteps and attempt to once again break through that ultimate glass ceiling.  Keep Going! 

 

“And maybe if I showed that I wasn’t giving up, other people would take heart and keep fighting, too.”  

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