Saturday, October 29, 2011

One Thousand White Women

Fact: In the mid-1870s, Cheyenne Chief Little Wolf approached President Grant with a rather odd request.  The Cheyenne (called "The People" in the book) wanted 1,000 white women in exchange for giving the US Government 1,000 horses.  The reason?  The People held the belief that children belong to the tribe of their mother, and if these white women would bear bi-racial children, these children would help to bring peace between the whites and The People, as they would belong to the "white tribe."  There is no evidence this request was ever granted.
Jim Fergus's One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd imagines the Brides for Indians program became a reality.  The story is told through the journals of one of the brides, May Dodd.  May's upper crust Chicago family had institutionalized her for the crime of falling in love with someone "below her station" and giving birth to two children out of wedlock.  Rather that stay incarcerated, May agrees to join the trek west to become an Indian bride. 
The book is incredibly well written, and the characters quite well developed.  Fergus did an incredible amount of research to make the story as accurate as possible.  I am still livid from the actions of the US Government in regards to The People, all of which were reported accurately in the book.  Treaties were broken regularly, as the white settlers wanted protection while on land given by the Government to the Cheyenne and Sioux tribes, including the Black Hills where gold was discovered. 
Very thought provoking and an excellent read.  Come December 31st, I have no doubt this book will make my top 10 list for 2011!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Decade of Hope

I saw this book in one of the Book Pages Daily emails I receive from our public library.  With the 10th anniversary of 9/11 just past, I was interested in learning more about those who survived, and those families who are still dealing with their loss.  Written by a former firefighter, the book has a heavy focus on the first responders on 9/11.  343 firefighters lost their lives doing their job on 9/11, and 23 police officers.  Dennis Smith conducted interviews with 25 individuals or families touched directly by the events of 9/11.  While they were all touching, I learned the most from Dan Nigro (director of operations for FDNY who became Chief on the Sunday following 9/11), Ray Kelly (police commissioner), Lee Iepli (FDNY, retired, whose sons were both firefighters and responded on 9/11 and founder of the Tribute Center at Ground Zero), and Ada Rosario Dolch (who was the principal of a high school just a block from the World Trade Center).
While this book deals with a very difficult subject, most interviews focus on a message of hope and those who have tried to make a difference in memory of their loved ones lost.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Lily's Favorite Books ages newborn to one

Just like I made the decision last year to track my books, I decided I should keep a book log for Lily.  I write down the names and authors of all the books we read to hear.  So far, she's listened to 240 books!  I'm sure there are more that I forgot to record. 

I'm going to write about her favorite books from each year, hoping that it will help those of you reading with children of the same age!

By far, her favorite books were these two from DK Publishing - Baby Colors and Count with Me.  She LOVED looking at the pictures of babies (and particularly loved the little boy on the cover of Baby Colors!). She read and/or looked at these books into her first year.

Another favorite was Baby Cakes by Karma Wilson.  Jane Pelletier gave this to Lily as a gift, and we loved the rhythm of the story along with the illustrations.  This is one we still read occasionally.

Another gift from Jane, Mommy Loves Me was great with the photographs!

Lily loved the Karen Katz books - Shake It Up Baby, Where is Baby's Belly Button, Peek-A-Baby, Where is Baby's Valentine, Where is Baby's Easter Egg.  This one was my favorite, with a rattle in the spine.

Tails was a gift from the Holdman girls at Lily's baby shower.  I probably should have waited until she was a little older, as she played pretty hard with this book and we lost a number of the tails!  However, it was worth it!  We also liked One Yellow Lion by Matthew van Fleet.

Finally, and still one of our favorites, is Fifteen Animals by Sandra Boynton.  The song from this book is available for a free download when you buy the book and is also on our all-time favorite CD, Philadelphia Chickens by Sandra Boynton.

EVERY CHILD NEEDS THIS CD!  The songs are catchy, the rhythms are great, and many of the songs just make you want to dance.  Lily has loved it since birth.

Truth is Stranger than Fiction

Our motto at the office is, "You can't make this shit up."  We even talked about having shirts printed!  For years, we've believed we could write stories of the things our CASA families have done and could pass them off as fiction, because no one would believe they were true!

The Man in the Rockefeller Suit could be one of the stories we tell in our office.  Mark Seal interviewed more than 200 people who knew Clark Rockefeller in his various locations and identities.  The ultimate con man, Rockefeller (originally Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter and then many other names) was constantly changing his identity as he moved up the social ladder.

This book was absolutely fascinating - I didn't want to put it down.  It begins with Rockefeller's kidnapping of his own daugther during a supervised visit and culminates with a court hearing for that charge.  His wife, an incredibly successful business woman, describes the typical domestic violence relationship dominated by power and control.  Her realization that her husband wasn't who he claimed to be and the courage it took her to leave a dangerous man was the highlight of the book for me. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Vacation Reading

While walking a half-marathon at the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer was the purpose of my recent trip to Santa Barbara, I also had some time to relax and read!  Here are the four books I read, all of which were worth reading!

I started with The Flamenco Academy by Sarah Bird, having recently read and enjoyed her newest book, The Gap Year.  While this was the fictional account of a woman who as a senior in high school fell in love with a Flamenco guitarist, which changed the course of her life, I particularly enjoyed it for the lesson on Flamenco and the Gypsy culture.  I learned about Spanish Gypsies, who created Flamenco as a means of expressing their frustration and grief.  The guiding principle for Flamenco is "Dame la verdad" ("Give me the truth), meaning the dance should reflect what is most true in your life or in your heart. 

Next I read Lisa See's Shanghai Girls, which was published a couple of years ago.  Much like The Flamenco Academy, I enjoyed learning about China in the 1930s, the second Sino-Japanese war, immigration at Angel Island off the coast of San Francisco, and the Chinese immigrant community in California in the mid-20th century.  At the start of the book, sisters Pearl and May are "beautiful girls," meaning they model for painters.  Their family is financially sound, and Pearl has graduated from college.  However, their father owes a significant amount of gambling debts to a local gang, and he trades his daughters for his debt, arranging marriages to the sons of a Chinese immigrant in America.  The girls refuse to board the ship to America, and in doing so, become stuck in Shanghai at the start of the Japanese invasion of China and are caught in the middle of a war.  They eventually make it onto a boat, but are detained for months at Angel Island.  Will they ever be happy in their arranged marriages?  This was by far my favorite of the four books I read on my trip.

I next read Ann Patchett's highly acclaimed book State of Wonder about drug exploration in the Brazilian rain forest.  When Marina's lab partner fails to return from a trip to visit their company's researcher in the rain forest, Marina must make the trip to determine what happened to him and to see what progress is being made on a fertility drug.  After many road blocks, she finally makes into the heart of the rain forest and learns much about herself.  I have to say I have no desire to go to Brazil after reading this book!  Biting bugs galore, giant poisonous snakes, and high humidity aren't my idea of a good time.  However, the book was interesting if not completely worth the hype.

Finally, I read the first book in Alexander McCall Smith's latest series, Corduroy Mansions about people living in three flats in a converted mansion in London.  Much like his series, 44 Scotland Street, the characters are quirky and have a number of interesting interactions throughout the book.  My favorite character in this book was Freddie de la Hay, the vegetarian dog who comes to live with the main character, William, in the hopes that Williams' dog-hating adult son Eddie will move out of the flat.  Much like 44 Scotland Street, this book was published daily in the Daily Telegraph by chapter over 100 days.  The second book in the series has just been released, and I'm on my way to the library tomorrow to check it out! 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Zoo Story: Life in the Garden of Captivity

I read a review of this book in The Manhattan Mercury and checked it out from the public library.  I've always had mixed feelings about zoos.  Certainly in their current incarnation, most zoos are designed for maximum space and stimulation for the animals and the majority of the animals in zoos were bred in captivity rather than being captured in the wild.  And accredited zoos (like our own Sunset Zoo) are active participants in conservation education and breeding programs to help maintain genetic diversity for endangered animals.  However, I have always felt sad for the animals kept in captivity and on display. 

Thomas French is a reporter in Florida who wrote a series of articles on the Tampa Zoo, which he used to write this book.  His in-depth look at the animals in the zoo (including their life histories) along with the humans who choose to work daily with these animals is fascinating.  The politics of zoos is also examined, particularly through the lens of the overambitious director of the Tampa zoo. 

This book made me cry more than once for the animals and their keepers.  If you love animals and nature, this book is well worth your time.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

"The Gap Year" by Sarah Bird

I enjoyed this book enough to go to the library this morning and check out another book by Sarah Bird.  The Gap Year is the story of seventeen-year-old Aubrey Lightsey and her mother Cam.  Can is a single mother who works as a lactation consultant.  Aubrey's father left them when she was two to join a religious cult.  The book alternates between the summer of 2010, when Aubrey should be getting ready to leave for college, and the fall of 2009, when Aubrey's life changed without Cam realizing.  A great look at how well we really know those we love the most.

Friday, August 5, 2011

"Beach reads"

I hate the label "chick lit," so I'm using "beach reads" instead!  Sometimes I just want to read a fun, romantic book - kind of like watching "When Harry Met Sally" or "Notting Hill."  Here are two books I've read recently that would fit into the genre.

Following her parents' death in a car accident, Dora grew up with her grandmother, Mimi.  Mimi owned a vintage clothing store, which Dora returns to run after Mimi suffers a stroke.  Dora discovers that Mimi had been writing secret lives for many of the dresses in her store.  What stories would your clothes tell if they could talk?  I truly enjoyed The Secret Lives of Dresses by Erin McKean.

Have you ever pulled a charm from a wedding cake?  My pledge daughter followed this southern tradition at her wedding, and I pulled a Kappa fleur-de-lis from her cake that I still wear on a necklace.  In Kim Gruenenfelder's There's Cake in my Future a group of friends pull charms from a shower cake.  Nikki had rigged the cake so she and her friends would get the charms she wanted each to have, with each charm representing something coming in your future.  However, the cake is shifted and each woman pulls an unintended charm.  Do these charms change their fate?  Gruenenfelder has two previous books, and I read A Total Waste of Makeup recently - another fun read.

Finally, my favorite read every summer is the new Stephanie Plum novel by Janet Evanovich.  These books make me laugh aloud every time I read them!  Imagine Lucy and Ethel as bounty hunters in Trenton, New Jersey, and you get the idea.  If you haven't read the Stephanie Plum books, you must!  I think the first book (One for the Money) is a difficult read and not very enjoyable, which I think turns a lot of people off to this series.  So, I'll give you a recap so you can jump in with the second book, Two for the Show.   Stephanie Plum grew up in Trenton.  Her parents still live there, in a neighborhood called the Burg.  Stephanie's maternal grandmother, Grandma Mazur, lives with her parents.  Grandma Mazur is one of my favorite parts of the books - she is a gun carrying granny who likes to go to funeral homes for fun.  Stephanie was married to attorney Dicky Orr for about thirty minutes, until she discovered Dicky having his way with Stephanie's nemesis Joyce Barnhardt.   Stephanie worked at the feminine product factory, but when she lost that job, took at job working as a bounty hunter for her cousin at Vinnie Plum Bail Bonds.  Her sidekick is Lula, a former 'ho with a propensity for wearing very tight spandex and for shooting people (with her taser or a gun).  Stephanie has two love interests - fellow bounty hunter Ranger and police officer Joe Morelli.  That should be enough to get you started!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Finally a book worth sharing!

I haven't written in some time.  Despite reading numerous books this summer, I haven't had many that have stood out.  Jeffrey Archer is one of my favorite storytellers, and I was excited to find he had a (relatively!) new book on the discount rack at Barnes and Noble.

Paths of Glory is a fictional account of the life of Englishman George Mallory and asks the question, what if Sir Edmund Hillary wasn't the first person to reach the summit of Mt. Everest in 1953.  What if Geroge Mallory, who was last seen 600 feet from the summit in 1924, was actually the first? 

Archer's Kane and Abel, which I first read in high school, still ranks as my single favorite book with his As the Crow Flies in my top 10.  Archer's historical fiction is thrilling, the characters are fascinating.  While searching today, I saw he has a new book coming out in August - I can hardly wait!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Reading on my recent trip to Washington, DC

What does it mean to be a mother?  Is it nature or nurture?  Shilpi Somaya Gowda attempts to answer this question in her Target Club Pick book, Secret Daughter.  Asha is adopted from an orphanage in India by two American doctors, Somer and Krishnan (who was born and raised in India).  Asha's mother (Kavita) risked her own life to bring Asha to the orphanage after her husband killed their first-born daughter, as daughters are seen as a financial drain.  The book's narration alternates between Somer, Kavita, and Asha. 

I read this while on a flight to Washington, DC for a conference and truly enjoyed it.  Highly recommended!

Another book I read on my trip was Zeitoun by Dave Eggers.  A recent edition of the K-Stater magazine featured an article about K-State reads, a new program for incoming freshmen.  Every incoming student was given The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins during orientation with the thought that all freshmen would come to college with a shared experience and discussing the book would be an icebreaker.  The book for 2011-12 freshmen is Zeitoun.  Abdulrahman Zeitoun, a successful Syrian-born painting contractor, decides to stay in New Orleans and protect his property while his family flees Hurricane Katrina. After the levees break, he uses a small canoe to rescue people, before being arrested by an armed squad and swept powerlessly into a vortex of bureaucratic brutality. When a guard accuses him of being a member of Al Qaeda, he sees that race and culture may explain his predicament.  A fascinating look at New Orleans during and immediately following Hurricane Katrina as well as it's impact on one family.

Friday, May 27, 2011

The second best book I've read this year! - The Secret Gift by Ted Gup

The Secret Gift: How One Man's Kindness - And A Trove Of Letters - Reveal the Hidden History of the Great Depression by Ted Gup

Gup, an investigative reporter, received a suitcase full of family items upon his maternal grandmother's death.  The suitcase contained items like his grandmother's baby album, wedding pictures, and letters.  In the top of the suitcase, he found an envelope containing a notice from the Canton, Ohio newspaper dated December 1933 seeking those in need during the height of the Great Depression to write of their troubles, on the condition of anonymity, to B. Virdot, who would like to give $10 to 75 families in need.  In addition, there were letters from 150 individual seeking assistance and a bank book detailing gifts of $5 (the equivalent of $100 today) to each of these 150 individuals.  B. Virdot was Gup's maternal grandfather, Sam Stone.

Gup undertook the task of tracking down descendants of the recipients of B. Virdot's gift and conducted over 500 interviews.  The book includes the text of many of the letters, along with stories of the families his grandfather's gift touched.  But it is also the story of his grandfather's life and his grandparents' marriage.  In learning about the families helped by his grandfather, Gup also uncovers many secrets about his grandfather's life. 

The parallels between the families in need during the depression and our current economic climate are timely.  The family stories are fascinating.  And the difference between those in need in 1933 who would never seek charity and those in generational poverty today who depend on the government for their support is striking. 

Gup has a web site with photos, additional letters, and more information at - it's worth checking out along with this book!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Clara and Mr. Tiffany

I have always loved historical fiction, particularly those that focus on the role of women in history.  In Susan Vreeland's Clara and Mr. Tiffany, we are introduced to Clara Driscoll, artist, head of the women's department at Tiffany's art studios, and creator and designer of Tiffany's most famous lamps.  Vreeland came across an exhibit at the New York Historical Society entitled A New Light on Tiffany: Clara Driscoll and the Tiffany Girls and discovered a rich correspondence record from Clara Driscoll detailing her role in the history of the Tiffany Company. 

I think this quote from the back cover best sums up the book, "Clara and Mr. Tiffany is a noble and necessary book for us to read, lest we allow ourselves to be ignorant of the struggle, courage, and vision of women who have come before us.  Readers will never look at a Tiffany lamp or window the same way again."  - Sena Jeter Naslund

I saw a truly beautiful Tiffany window at the Indianapolis Museum of Art and would love to visit the Morse Museum in Winter Park, Florida, that houses the largest collection of Tiffany works. 

Books every child advocate should read

There are two books I believe should be required reading for anyone interested in serving as a child advocate or current CASA volunteers - One Small Boat by Kathy Harrison and Three Little Words by Ashley Rhodes-Courter. 

Kathy Harrison and her husband served as foster parents for many years.  In her second book, One Small Boat, she tells the story of Daisy, one of their most challenging foster children who came to them in a voluntary placement.  The view of the lives of foster children along with the challenges faced by good foster parents makes this book worth reading.  This will be our summer book club selection for CASA book club. 

Ashley Rhodes-Courter spent most of her childhood in foster care, until she was adopted by CASA volunteer and author Gay Courter and her husband (Gay wrote another excellent book, I Speak for this Child about her experiences as a CASA).  Ashley's book, Three Little Words, describes her childhood experiences along with the ambivelience she felt about adoption (her three little words were, "I guess so," when asked by a judge if she wanted to be adopted).  The one person who made the biggest difference in Ashley's life was her CASA volunteer, who was with her for the duration of her case and helped find her an adoptive home with the Courters. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Just finished my first "5" book of the year! Moon over Manifest

The latest Newbery Award winner, Moon Over Manifest, alternates between events in the town of Manifest, Kansas in 1918 and 1936.  The book begins with 12-year-old Abilene Tucker hopping off a train in Manifest, Kansas (modeled on Frontenac, Kansas in southeast Kansas) having been sent by her single father to live with a preacher her father had lived with as a child.  Abilene is on a mission to find out more about her father's childhood in Manifest and in the process, discovers the history of the town. 

The author, Clare Vanderpool, lives in Wichita and based the book on stories she heard from her grandparents.

Some of my favorite books are young adult literature, and some are former Newbery Award winners.  Here's a list of my favorite young adult books:
1) Harry Potter (of course, this series would be number one on my list of favorite books of any genre, too!)
2) The Hunger Games trilogy, but particularly the first book
3) The Chronicles of Narnia
4) Meet the Austins by Madeleine L'Engle (author of A Wrinkle in Time)
5) Homecoming and Dicey's Song (Newbery Award winner in 1983) by Cynthia Voigt
6) Sarah, Plain and Tall (Newbery Award winner in 1986) by Patricia MacLachlan
7) The Westing Game (Newbery Award winner in 1979) by Ellen Raskin

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Left Neglected

Author Lisa Genova holds a PhD in neuroscience from Harvard.  In her second book. she tells the story of Sarah, a Harvard Business School graduate with a thriving career and a neglected family.  On her way to work on a rainy day, she takes her attention away from the road to make a call on her cell phone, resulting in a tragic one-car crash and a traumatic brain injury.  Sarah wakes up eight days later in the hospital with Left Neglect, a neurological condition where the body does not recognize the existance of the left side of objects (or their own bodies).  Sarah must come to grips with her condition and her priorities in life. 

I had enjoyed Genova's first book, Still Alice, about a Harvard psychology professor who develops early onset Alzheimer's disease, so looked forward to reading her latest.  Left Neglected is the best book I've read in a while!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Time of My Life

I have been waiting to read this book for a long time - the hold list at the library was stagnant for more than six months as books were lost, rebound, and reordered.  I can't rememmber where I first read about this book - could have been the Bookpages magazine at the library, could have been recommended from another book I viewed on Amazon - but I remember being drawn to the title.  "I've had the time of my life, and I've never felt this way before..." drifted into my thoughts. 

While I was waiting for this book, I checked out the author's previous book, The One That I Want, last year.  It was one of the lowest rated books on my list.  I'm obviously not taking very good notes on my book list, because I can't remember why I didn't like it! 

However, this week my hold finally came due and I read Time of My Life over the past two days.  The book starts with Jillian having given up her job in advertising to move to the suburbs of NYC and be a full-time mom to her infant daughter.  Her marriage has become a shell, with her husband traveling and working late hours for work, and Jillian finds her life as a stay-at-home mom not as fulfilling as she had hoped.  She wonders what her life would have been like if she had not left her previous long-term boyfriend seven years prior.  When she wakes up in her life seven years ago, she has the chance to answer those questions. 

I think we all have "what ifs" in our lives.  My biggest ones - what if I had been braver and had looked at colleges outside of Kansas?  what I had been braver and had taken the job I was offered with Teach for America?  I've learned some from these decisions, because when I was braver when I changed careers, when I ran for City Commisison, and particularly when I made the terrifying decision three years ago to have a baby!  All of these paid off (and in the case of Lily, paid off big time!).  What are your "what ifs?"

Monday, February 21, 2011

What I've Been Reading

Just finished a good book today - Who Loves You Best by Tess Stimson.  It's a Target Book Club pick, and since it wasn't available at the library, my parents gave it to me for my birthday. 

Told from multiple points of view, this is the story of a working mother with twins who feels as though she must do everything perfectly or fail.  When she decides she needs help (in the form of a nanny because he husband is totally unwilling to help with the kids!), things get more complicated. 

In an interview with the author, she named Anita Shreve as one of her favorite authors.  Great segue into the next book I read recently and enjoyed, Rescue by Anita Shreve.

Anita Shreve has always been one of my favorite authors.  Like Pat Conroy, she has beautiful prose and I love to immerse myself in her language.   Rescue is the story of a seventeen-year-old girl and her single father.  Much of the story is told in flashback - how her parents met, why her mother left, her father's dreams that are put aside to raise his daughter. 

Favorite Anita Shreve books -
Fortune's Rocks - set at the turn of the last century, this is the story of a 15-year-old girl who falls in love with a writer three times her age. 

Resistance - set in Belgium during World War II, the protagonist is a resistance fighter who provides refuge for a British pilot who crashed behind enemy lines.

The Pilot's Wife - an Oprah book club book that I actually enjoyed!  When her husband, a pilot, dies in a plane crash, the protagonist attempts to clear her husband's name and discovers that she knows little about his life.

Monday, January 31, 2011

"Chick Lit"

Sometimes, I just want to read for fun!  I just finished reading The Lost Recipe for Happiness by Barbara O'Neal last night.  I chose it from the library because her current book, How to Bake a Perfect Life, is the Target Book Club pick this month, and generally I enjoy the Target suggestions. 

Elena has worked her way up from humble beginnings in New Mexico to become the Executive Chef of her own restaurant, The Orange Bear, in Aspen.  This book is worth reading just for the descriptions of Elena's food!  I couldn't wait to go back to Santa Fe and eat. 

Some other "chick lit" books I've enjoyed in the last year:

I can't read Sophie Kinsella's Shopaholic books without laughing out loud (and I really can't listen to the audio books without howling with laughter - I'm sure I make quite the sight while driving and laughing hysterically!).  The latest installment of Becky Bloomwood Brandon's life was simply fun!

Last summer, I was browsing the library, looking for paperbacks to pack on our trip to Colorado, and I stumbled across this book - Madam Mirabou's School of Love by Barbara Samuel.  I've since read a couple more of her books (Lady Luck's Map of Vegas and The Goddess of Kitchen Avenue) and found them all enjoyable.

Carolyn Parkhurst is best known for The Dogs of Babel, but I first discovered her with another Target Club Pick - Lost and Found, which tells the story of a mother-daughter team dealing with their own relationship issues while appearing on an Amazing Race-like reality show.  I can't recommend this one highly enough!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Gone, Baby, Gone

In 2008, I watched the movie Gone, Baby, Gone and I'm still angry about the ending!  I didn't realize until recently that this excellent movie came from a book by Dennis Lehane (who also wrote Mystic River and Shutter Island)

This movie (and the book) portray the parents we work with everyday at CASA more accurately than any other work I've seen or read.  Helene, the mother of missing 4-year-old Amanda, could be the mother from every case I've ever served.  She's not intentionally trying to hurt her child, she doesn't physicall abuse her child, but she is unable to put her child's needs before her own and because of this, she neglects all of Amanda's needs.  

I finished the book last night, and while I enjoyed it, this may be one of the rare exceptions where the movie was just as good as the book or maybe even better (others in this category for me are The Shawshank Redemption from Stephen King's novella and LA Confidential which came from the book of the same name by James Ellroy).  If you don't have time to read the book, I'd highly recommend watching the movie.  We showed it as a CASA movie night, and I think everyone there agreed that Lehane captured the essence of the neglectful parent in Helene.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

In the Heart of the Canyon

Here's the first book I've really enjoyed this year (of the four I've read!) - In the Heart of the Canyon by Elisabeth Hyde (author of The Abortionist's Daughter).  This book made me want to go on a rafting trip down the Colorado river (well, sort of - I don't know if I could take two weeks of sleeping outside and no bathrooms!).  The guide is taking his 125th trip down the river, but despite all of his experience, this is one of the most complicated trips of his career.  The characters were well developed, and I really enjoyed the description of the white-water rafting experience!

I liked The Abortionist's Daughter, but this book was even better!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Some of my favorite authors

I would read anything written by these authors and always look forward to the publication of their next book.  In no particular order:
  • Pat Conroy - his prose is simply beautiful.  I could read his books over and over just to savor the language.  Plus, his stories are enthralling!  My favorite books of his are Price of Tides, My Losing Season (non-fiction about his high school basketball team), and Beach Music.
  • Anna Quindlen - Black and Blue is the first of her books I read, and it's still my favorite.  Her books of essays are also excellent.
  • Anita Shreve - I could read Fortune's Rocks again and again. 
  • Stephen King - When he's on form, he's the best storyteller around!  The Stand and The Green Mile are my two favorites, but I also love books 2, 3, and 4 of The Dark Tower series.  Two of my favorite movies are adapted from King's novellas - The Shawshank Redemption (from the story Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption) and Stand by Me (from the story The Body). 
  • Michael Connelly - Blood Work is my favorite Connelly book, but I enjoy all of his books.
  • Dean Koontz - while he's rather wordy (making his audio books rather tedious), his stories are marvelous!  I've read them all, but my favorites are From the Corner of His Eye, One Door Away from Heaven, and the Odd Thomas books.
  • Adriana Trigiani - a great storyteller, my favorite of her books is Lucia, Lucia.
  • Larry McMurtry - Some of his books just make me laugh out loud and many of them have made me cry.  The Evening Star did both - it's the sequel to Terms of Endearment (one of the few books where I liked the movie better).  Aurora is the classic McMurtry character.  My other favorite McMurtry book is The Desert Rose, which always makes me laugh!  Harmony, a washed up Vegas showgirl, is a fabulous main character!
  • Jeffrey Archer - Kane and Able is one of my favorite books of all time - definitely in the top five!  His books are suspenseful and characters are well developed.
  • David Baldacci - Wish You Well is not the traditional Baldacci thriller, but it's my favorite of his stories!
  • Brad Meltzer - The Tenth Justice, his first book, is my favorite of his books.
  • John Grisham - while all of his books are a good read, A Time To Kill will always be my favorite.
  • Charlaine Harris - I love her Shakespeare series about a small-town amateur detective, Lily Bard, but her most famous books are the Sookie Stackhouse series which has been made into an HBO series, True Blood.
Reading this list, I realize I need to find some more female authors to follow!