Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Nevermore: Grisham, Third Reich, Tan, Lilac Girls, A.J. Filkry, Allende, Baldacci, Joshilyn, Charlatan, Long Haul, King, Fifth Risk


Reported by Laura
            The books read this week were pretty evenly matched between fiction and nonfiction. The content was of a wide variety of genres.


            The first book reviewed was The Rainmaker by John Grisham. This is the story of a new lawyer who hasn’t been able to find a law firm to hire him and finds himself stuck with no money and a mountain of debt. Consequently, he decides to take the risk of a potentially lucrative case--should he be able to win it. This inexperienced young lawyer decides to take on a big insurance company who refused a claim that could have saved a man’s life. The reader loved this book so much, she is now checking out all the Grisham she can find!

            The next book was a military history, The Last Days of the Third Reich by James Lucas. This is an account of the revenge taken by liberated Hungary, Rumania, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia on the surrendered German army. The reader found it very interesting on the human side and shocking that the German army was marched until almost all were dead. It also details Hitler’s suicide and exactly what happened to his remains.

            The Bonesetter’s Daughter by Amy Tan was recommended as a really good book. The mother remembers a time when she would find bones and use them for medicine and ink. It turned out that the bones may have belonged to The Peking Man and be worth a lot of money. This is just one of the many memories she tries to hold on to as her clarity fades. As in a lot of Ms. Tan’s work, the story does a good job of focusing on the generational struggles between a daughter and her Chinese mother.


            The Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly is a good book, but the reviewer found it hard to read due to the time frame. Set during WWll, it tells the story of three different women and the varying ways their lives are affected by the war. One is a socialite, one a doctor at a concentration camp, and one a Polish teenager who is sent to the notorious women’s camp, Ravensbruck. Crossing continents, these women’s lives intertwine as they each experience a world changed by war.

            Our next book, The Storied Life of A. J. Filkry by Gabrielle Zevin, tells the story of a man who owns a book store on an island off the coast of Massachusetts. A.J. Filkry is something of a book snob and his shop begins to lose business after the loss of his wife, Alice. Things go from bad to worse when his first edition of poems written by Poe (and extremely valuable being only one of 50) is stolen. But then… someone leaves him a package that changes, not only his outlook, but his entire life.
            Of Love and Shadows by Isabel Allende tells of Irene Beltran, a young woman who was raised in wealth, but chooses to become a magazine journalist. Over time, she grows to rebel against the oppressive regime of the Latin American country where she lives. Then she meets and begins to fall for a photographer whom she joins in his search for missing people. The reviewer loves books by this author!
            Gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson was really good! Arlene is raised in the south, but escapes up north as soon as she is able. Despite repeated pleas from her Aunt Fran, who raised her, she resists returning to her roots, and keeps that vow until her fiancé insists on meeting her family. To save her future marriage, she returns, but comes face to face with the buried secrets she ran away to escape from in the first place.

            Our next nonfiction offering was Charlatan by Pope Brock. This intriguing story covers the rise and fall of medical con man Dr. John Brinkley. During the 20’s and 30’s, this shyster became known as the “goat gland” doctor. Pretending to have studied medicine, his claim to fame was inserting goat testicles into impotent men. “Doctor” Brinkley had a radio show and was a pioneer in the use of advertising on the air. Interestingly, he helped to launch the career of several country legends, including our own Carter Family!
            David Baldacci’s Redemption was a page turner. Amos Decker is an FBI agent who returns to his hometown to visit the grave of his murdered daughter on what would have been her 14th birthday. While there, he is approached by a man he helped convict of murder 13 years ago. The man has received compassionate release due to a terminal cancer diagnosis and is still reiterating his innocence. That same night, the man is killed and Decker is faced with the possibility that he may have helped to convict the wrong man.
            The remainder of our reviews were of nonfiction books. Our reviewer loved The Long Haul: A Trucker’s Tales of Life on the Road by Finn Murphy and found it to be a page -turner. This book is a socialized study of truckers and the people who haul furniture. Murphy has many stories to tell of his long haul trips across the country in the 18 wheeler he calls “Cassidy.”

            Note to Self is a collection of inspiring essays originally shown on a popular segment of CBS This Morning. Gayle King has gathered the best of the best from Joe Biden to Kermit the Frog. The premise is what you would say to your younger self to help navigate the pitfalls of life. Our reviewer found it interesting and thought provoking as it made her think about what SHE might say if asked to write such a note. What would YOU say?
            Our last review is for The Fifth Risk by Michael Lewis, a quick read and wonderful book. Mr. Lewis is a risk expert and covers the top risks facing our country. Data has been collected for years from various sources, including the National Weather Service. The greatest risk is what we don’t see coming! The fifth risk is identified as the risk posed by incompetent government leaders. This book comes highly recommended.

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