Monday, May 20, 2019

A Thousand Naked Strangers

Subtitled: A Paramedic's Wild Ride to the Edge and Back
Nonfiction by Kevin Hazzard

Obviously I picked this book just for the clever title.

I've done this before, and sometimes the book isn't quite as clever as the title; however, this book definitely was.

This book was full of funny stories about crazy things, and also managed to show the reader a little of the author's journey through life and what he learned. I recommend this one!

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Dogs of Babel

Fiction by Carolyn Parkhurst.

Linguistics professor Paul's wife Lexy dies unexpectedly from a fall while at home alone with the couple's dog, a Rhodesian ridgeback called Lorelei. The police are satisfied that Lexy's death is an accident, but Paul becomes obsessed with finding out what really happened. He is convinced that Lorelei can tell him, and takes a sabbatical from work to focus exclusively on animal communication  research. Basically, he begins to spend all his time trying to get a dog to talk.

His colleagues are convinced he's gone off the deep end in his grief, and it may well be so. But the reader can't help but wonder: What if it's possible? Maybe dogs can talk, if we listen hard enough.

This was a very interesting character story.

I also read by this author: Harmony

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Darkest Fear

Fiction by Harlan Coben.

This is #7 from the Myron Bolitar Series (see The Final Detail for the others I've read, all out of order). In this story, Myron is trying to find a missing bone marrow donor in order to save a thirteen-year-old boy who might be his own son.

Yeah, I know. That's a weird premise, isn't it? But somehow the story works, and you'll never guess where it's going to go...

I also read recently by this author: Run Away

Monday, May 13, 2019

Red Queen

YA Fiction by Victoria Aveyard.

The characters in this story occupy a universe where humanity is divided into two groups: Reds and Silvers. Reds are regular people like us, and they are basically a slave race, born to serve the Silvers. Silvers are not only richer and more privileged than Reds, they also have almost supernatural abilities that set them apart: some have incredible strength, or superhuman speed, or magical healing ability. But the main thing that sets the two races apart is their blood. While the Reds, like regular humans, have red blood in flowing in their veins, the Silvers have... can you guess? Silver blood! It's not clear if they evolved from humans or if they are aliens or what, and I guess it's not important to the story.

Anyways, background aside, the story focuses on a young Red girl called Mare who is destined to somehow rise into the Silver world. It's a pretty good story, and it's only the beginning in this book. I'm not sure if I want to commit to the rest of the series, however. The characters din't quite grab me as much as I'd like. Still, it was exciting.

Friday, May 10, 2019

The Book That Matters Most

Fiction by Ann Hood.

Ava's husband Jim has just left her for another woman after some twenty-five years together. The children are on her side, aghast at their father's betrayal, but it doesn't help her much as they are both abroad, one studying in Italy and the other in the Peace Corps in Africa. So Ava joins a book group for solace, and the group is embarking upon the theme, "The Book That Matters Most." Each book club member will choose a book that they think is the most important to them personally and have everyone in the group read it.

Personally I find this theme a little grandiose, and in general I dislike being asked things like, "What is your FAVORITE book?" or "What book has influenced you the MOST?" I just love too many books to choose just one, and also it seems like one is pressured to pick a Classic or Intellectual Book of some kind in order to not look like a dullard. And these people in this story did just that, almost invariably choosing books your high school English teacher would make you read. (Pride and Prejudice, Anna Karenina, The Catcher in the Rye, etc.) Still, one character does remark cheekily, "Mark Twain's definition of a classic is a book you have heard of but never read."

But Ava's book choice is a personal one, a reminder of her troubled past, and throughout the book club year we learn about her life, and about her daughter Maggie, who is indeed abroad, but she isn't actually studying. And will the faithless Jim come crawling back? We can only hope...

Wednesday, May 8, 2019


Fiction by Affinity Konar.

This was an almost-poetic novel about children in Auschwitz, if you can believe that. The title refers to a German word for half-breed or mixed blood, something the Nazis detested, but the main characters are not really mischlings at all. Sasha and Pearl are a pair of identical twins, Polish Jews plucked from the cattle car by the infamous Dr. Mengele for study in his laboratory.

The story is both beautiful and terrible, and I feared to finish it because I hated the thought of these poor girls' destruction. (Even though, you have to expect that in  Holocaust book, I know.) Even at the liberation of Auschwitz it still looked really bad for Pearl and Sasha, and that was the point I'd been hoping for things to get better. But the good news is that they don't both die....

I would recommend this book, as long as you know it's very sad, but that there is hope at the end.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Don't Believe a Word

Fiction by Patricia MacDonald.

I really like Patricia MacDonald's suspenseful books! In this story, a young woman called Eden discovers that her mother and handicapped half-brother have been tragically killed. The police call the deaths a murder-suicide, but Eden is not so sure....

This was an exciting story!

I also read recently by this author: Little Sister