October Books

Little Bee by Chris Cleave
When a person reads as much as I do, it takes a humdinger to really knock my socks off. This is one of those very special stories and I don’t want to spoil it, but I will tell you it’s funny, and it’s horrific. After you read it you may want to tell everyone about it but please don't tell them what happens. Just tell them it’s about Little Bee, a young Nigerian refugee, and Sarah, the British widow who takes her in, and Sarah’s two-year-old son. ♥ ♥ ♥

Little Bird of Heaven by Joyce Carol Oates
When ZoĆ« Kruller is found murdered, the police have two suspects: her estranged husband, Delray, and her lover, Eddy Diehl. As the story unfolds, the Krullers' son, Aaron, and Eddy Diehl's daughter, Krista, become obsessed with each other, each believing the other's father is the guilty party. Alternatively told in the very different voices of Krista and Aaron, Little Bird of Heaven is classic Oates -- dark, cruel, haunting and believable. Although not one of my favorite Oates books, it’s a good read and fans will like it regardless of what I say.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
It’s January 1946 and writer Juliet Ashton receives a letter from a stranger, a founding member of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. The story continues as Juliet writes back and gets to know (and love) the other members of the group. And so the remarkable tale of the island of Guernsey during the German occupation unfolds. With each new letter in the series I realized how much we have lost with our modern TXT and flurry of email -- the beauty and art of the written letter. Although it brought to mind the lovely 84, Charing Cross Road, which I read many years ago – TGLPPS is a lovely book and one that I highly recommend.
As a side note -- Mary Ann Shaffer worked as an editor, and a librarian, and this was her first --and sadly, last -- novel. Annie Barrows is her niece, and stepped in to help finish the novel when Shaffer became ill and eventually died. As Barrows said, “The only flaw in the feast is that it ends.” ♥ ♥ ♥

The Sand Castle by Rita Mae Brown
This little novel brings back the infamous Hunsenmeir sisters, introduced to readers in Six of One (1978), Bingo (1988), yadda yadda. The Sand Castle focuses on a day in 1952 as sisters Wheezie and Juts; Juts's seven-year-old daughter, Nickel and Leroy, her eight-year-old cousin head to the seashore. As the day progresses, everyone fights and the ‘big blow-up’ is meant to show the importance of family. The story has a bad case of the doldrums – even for fans of the Hunsenmeir sisters.


Books for September 2009

Life List: A Woman’s Quest for the World’s Most Amazing Birds by Olivia Gentile
When Phoebe Snetsinger (amateur bird watcher extraordinaire) was told she was dying of cancer, she decided to spend the time she had left seeing as many birds as possible around the world. Of course that took a toll on her marriage and her four kids, but she ended up seeing more species than anyone in history – and I believe still holds that world record. Once a disgruntled housewife, Snetsinger ends up fulfilling her obsession and doing exactly what made her happy. All-in-all a good book with some interesting life-lessons. Don’t be surprised if you have an urge to run out and buy binoculars.

The Blue Notebook by James A. Levine
Batuk is sold into sexual slavery by her father when she was nine. Definitely not ‘Father-of-the-Year’ material. Now 15, she lives on Common Street -- a street of prostitution in Mumbai, India where children are kept in cages as they wait for customers. She finds hope and beauty while writing in her blue diary. Author James Levine, a doctor at the Mayo clinic, was inspired to write this novel when he was interviewing homeless children in Mumbai as part of his medical research and saw a young girl sitting outside her cage writing in a notebook. All U.S. proceeds from the book will be donated to helping exploited children. A powerful and heartbreaking story that needs to be read. ♥♥♥

The Red Leather Diary: Reclaiming a Life Through the Pages of a Lost Journal by Lilly Koppel
For more than half a century, the little red diary laid along-side trunks and suitcases in the basement of a posh New York apartment building. Then one day all this fabulous history is thrown in a dumpster. By chance the red leather diary is recovered by Lily Koppel, a young writer working at the New York Times. As Koppel reads Florence Wolfson’s entries, her life in1930s New York comes to life – horseback riding in Central Park, summer excursions to the Catskills, tea at Schrafft's, trips to London and Paris. With the help of a private investigator, Koppel try’s to find Florence (who would be a ninety-year-old woman) to return the diary. Does she succeed? Well, you’ll have to read this incredible true story to find out. A very cool glimpse into NYC circa 1929-1934.

What’s Left of Us: A Memoir of Addiction
by Richard Farrell
Filmmaker and journalist Farrell writes about a week of state-imposed rehab as a result of a failed attempt to overdose on heroin. Set in Lowell, Mass., in the late '80s Farrell acknowledges he was a liar, thief, bum, arsonist, absent father of two small children, an estranged husband and a mooching son. The book resonates with truth and is well-written. I could not put it down, but let me tell you -- I felt nauseated most the time. Point made Farrell.

Wildflower: An Extraordinary Life and Untimely Death in Africa by Mark Seal
Joan Root, a sixty-nine-year-old naturalist and Oscar-nominated wildlife filmmaker, was murdered by two masked men armed with an AK-47. Veteran journalist Mark Seal traveled to Kenya to investigate this real-life murder mystery–and found an unforgettable story not only of a tragic death but of her remarkable life. A completely inspirational history of Joan Root from her early days in Kenya to her courtship and marriage to Alan Root, and twenty years of groundbreaking wildlife filmmaking they did, both in Africa and around the world. Many believe her attempts to save the eco-system of her beloved Lake Naivasha was the reason she was murdered in January 2006. Fabulous non-fiction -- a worthy book. ♥♥♥