In “My Sister Rosa,” a family arrives in New York City on a new business venture. They are a family of four with two kids, 17-year-old Che and 10-year-old Rosa. They meet another family that is investing in Che and Rosa’s family’s business. The children from both families become friends. The story is told by the point of view of Che. As he adjusts to life in a new city, with new friends and a new girlfriend, he suspects that his little sister is a psychopath. The story goes on about the creepy things that Rosa gets away with and how sweet and cute she is so no one suspects her. The ending is a huge twist that even I did not see coming. I enjoyed this one a lot. I was pleasantly surprised by this story.
Three words that describe this book: Creepy, Unsettling, and Psycho
You might want to pick this book up if: you like psychological thrillers.
“Stan Musial: An American Life” by George Vecsey ranks with Richard Ben Cramer’s portrait of Joe DiMaggio as one of the finest sports biographies I’ve read. Unlike some formulaic sports bios of statistical recitations with an overlay of superficial quotes, Vecsey’s bio of Musial is comprehensive without being ponderous. What emerges is a nuanced portrait of an American — and Missouri — icon whose public “nice guy” image actually matched his private persona. Vecsey takes the reader on a journey from Musial’s hard life growing up in Donora, PA, to his frustrations as a sore-armed minor league pitcher, to his ultimate ascent to Hall of Famer and successful businessman. Through it all, Musial was a family man and friend to all, regardless of their station in life (clubhouse personnel, James Michener, Pope John Paul II, et al.). Musial always seemed to be in the right place at the right time, and after reading this book, even a Cubs fan will be glad that he was.
Three words that describe this book: Illuminating; thorough; enoyable
You might want to pick this book up if: You’re a lover of all things quintessentially American; you’re a sports fan; you’re a Cardinals fan.
“Leaving Time” follows 13-year-old Jenna as she attempts to find out why her mother disappeared from her life 10 years ago. The book is written from several of the characters’ points of view, which gives a nice take on how each person is seeing the events, and it allows the author to give the history of the plot and give insight to what led Jenna to searching for her mother. I enjoyed the fact that the book was written from a few different perspectives. This book also explores the lives of elephants, as Jenna’s parent ran an elephant sanctuary and Jenna’s mother was/is a scientist who studies grief in elephants. I’m not sure if all the facts I read were true, but I really like elephants, and the information about them in the book was enjoyable. In addition, there is a good plot twist toward the end. Overall, a good read that I would recommend to others.
Three words that describe this book: Interesting, intriguing, easy read
You might want to pick this book up if: You like other Jodi Picoult novels.
Poor 59-year-old Sookie. She’s the daughter of an elderly, demanding, wack-a-doodle, star quality mom who manages to get her three daughters married, leaving only her son to take the plunge. Sookie’s life with her devoted and supportive Great Dane-loving, dentist husband is fine. Except for the problem of the blue jays hogging the sunflower seeds in her bird feeders and preventing the little birds from eating, her life is pretty great. In managing her mom’s mail, a job she assumed when it became obvious mom couldn’t manage it herself (and Sookie needed to keep tabs on what mom was doing), she encounters a registered letter that shakes her to her very core with information indicating she is a year older than she thought.
In “The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion,” Fannie Flagg unfolds a tremendous story that seems so real, you’ll wish it were true. The wisdom and revelation makes this book one that, if politicians and all of us read and embraced the philosophy, our country would be in a better position. The historical relevance turns out to be the clever premise for the story.
GREAT, GREAT story!!
Three words that describe this book: patriotism, women, family
You might want to pick this book up if: Historical fiction with intriguing information about the WASP, who were the female pilots called to duty when the men left for WWII.
“Raising Money Smart Kids” is about teaching children money management skills as they age. It includes tips for teaching preschoolers through high schoolers about money. I enjoyed the letters from readers with questions and the advice the author provides. This book helped me realize what I’m doing well as I teach my kids how to handle money, and it gave me some tips for improving my skills.
Three words that describe this book: Informative, easy-to-read, helpful
You might want to pick this book up if: You have children and are interested in expanding your teaching skills as they learn how to handle money.
“Guitar Zero” has a subtitle which reads: “The Science of Becoming Musical at Any Age.” It definitely lives up to this title with the author’s in depth analysis of what it takes to become musical. Gary Marcus gives a first person perspective on what it’s like to start out with zero musical knowledge or capability and turn oneself into a mediocre musician. I enjoyed how Marcus had done very detailed research on all his points, and, if you view the bibliography, you can see he went through seemingly endless amounts of journal articles to accomplish this book. One part that was not to my liking was when he began to speak a lot about how the brain is put together and which parts help with music. I feel as if there were a lot of anatomical things stuffed into the book which it could have done without. As a guitar player, I figured it might focus on guitar more, but it turned out to be mostly about music in general. The title is a bit deceptive.
Three words that describe this book: Challenging, Informative, Inspirational
You might want to pick this book up if: You really prefer reading non-fiction and don’t mind stumbling through some “college level research paper” passages. Or if you want to understand the lengths at which you are required to go to become musical and need an example of someone who has done it.
“Cinder” is set in the future: it’s about a girl who is part cyborg. She lives in present-day China with her mean stepmom, two stepsisters and her best friend — who is a computer. She works as a mechanic and meets the prince of her country when he seeks her out for a job. On top of this, an evil queen is desiring to marry the prince. Further complicating things, a terrible disease is infiltrating the city and a cure is desperately being sought. I like this book because it’s fun and quick to read, the story is different with the creation of a Lunar world and it plays off of Cinderella.
Three words that describe this book: Futuristic, Science, Fiction
You might want to pick this book up if: You enjoy young adult novels, quick reads or easy/enjoyable plot lines.
The young ladies with the glamorous opportunity to paint the first luminous watch dials and navigational instruments come to life as Kate Moore takes you through America’s love affair with radium. “The Radium Girls” is so much more than a sordid tale of corporate greed. It is a celebration of the lives and spirits of the ladies who lived each day to its fullest despite being charter members of the “Society of the Living Dead.” Kate Moore’s work is laudable in that she brings the human dimension to the forefront while uniting the social, economic, scientific, medical and legal facets of the story. This book is well-rounded and thoroughly researched. It is inspiring, heart wrenching, infuriating and timely. Mollie, Grace, Catherine and their comrades would be proud. These women have finally had their stories told in a way that allows us to understand their roles and sacrifices in improving industrial health and safety, workers’ rights, labor laws and medicine. The final line of the postscript continues to haunt me: “How quickly we forget.”
Three words that describe this book: well-researched, visceral, captivating
You might want to pick this book up if: you are interested in early 20th century history, environmental/industrial health or you want to know a little bit more about that antique, glowing watch in your family.
“Every Heart a Doorway” shows you a whole different side of fantasy and adventure that you may have never considered. What happens when kids fall into portals and doors to mysterious new worlds? And then what happens to them once they return? This short novel covers the heartbreak and despair of characters who found their homes, but cannot return. This school for children teaches them to come to terms with reality, and how to accept the fact they may no longer be able to return to their magical land of whimsy and fairies, or wicked lands of vampires and lords of death. McGuire effortlessly seams magic, realism and humor in this short novel. My only complaint is that I wanted more!
Three words that describe this book: Fantasy, Magic, Mystery
You might want to pick this book up if: You are looking for a short, unique and fascinating read. This book will make you wonder what exactly happened to those children in the classic fairy tales we loved as kids.
The premise of “Outliers” is that extraordinary success is difficult to achieve without opportunity and fortuity. The book abounds with examples: The Beatles having the opportunity to hone their craft in Hamburg, Germany; Bill Gates’ computer club membership in high school and proximity to the University of Washington computer lab; the legendary lawyer Joe Flom getting castoff work from white-shoe law firms; European and Asian children having longer school years than American children; Canadian youth hockey players gaining an advantage over their peers based on the month of their birth, and other examples too numerous and nuanced to describe here. The author does not argue that opportunity automatically begets success. Time on task and hard work are necessary prerequisites to success, in his view, but he also argues persuasively that being in the right place at the right time, or even being born at the right time, can have tremendous consequences. I liked the book because it challenged conventional wisdom and was thought-provoking.
Three words that describe this book: Fascinating, provocative, counter-intuitive
You might want to pick this book up if: You appreciate ideas that cause you to reexamine conventional wisdom.