Book Reviews From Deena

Heart shape filled with books on shelvesCheck out these book reviews from Deena.  Deena was a member of the Library’s Patron Service Team who recently retired.  She has generously continued to share book reviews with us.  Thank you, Deena!

Let us know if you would like any titles added to your booklist or head over to BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download) to download the titles now.  Need more information about BARD?  See our BARD Page.

Always by Sarah Jio  DB86940

Kailey is having dinner with her fiancé, Ryan in a fancy restaurant.  As they leave they encounter a homeless man, Cade McCallister.  Kailey suddenly recognizes him as a man she once loved and lost.  Kailey’s world is turned upside down.  She is torn between helping Cade and her loyalty to Ryan, a man she now loves.  Who will she choose?

House at Riverton by Kate Morton  DB66900

Grace, from the age of fourteen, worked as a maid in England called Riverton.  Today, Grace at the age of 98, is contacted by a producer who is making a film about Riverton and a poet who committed suicide on the grounds of Riverton in 1924 during a party. Grace was witness to what happened, so many years ago and has kept silent about what really went on that night.  Grace who feels her life ebbing away believes it is time that the truth be told.  If you enjoy the series Downton Abbey this book might be for you.

Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld DB99840

Rodham is an alternative history.  What if Hillary Rodham Clinton never married Bill Clinton? Could she possibly have won the 2017 election? This is an interesting fantasy of the relationship of Hillary and Bill when they meet at Yale Law School.  They fall madly in love, but Hillary soon realizes Bill is a womanizer and leaves him.  Both move on with their lives, but their lives cross again several times in the book. This is a look at how things could have been through the author’s imagination. Don’t expect reality, her whole idea of who was president between 1988-2017 is completely different than the real world. This departure from reality is a fun read.

Book Reviews From Deena

It is with mixed emotions that we announce library staff member, Deena’s retirement.  It is difficult if not impossible, to sum up, Deena’s achievements over her years of dedicated service to the Library and the Iowa Department for the Blind.  Her vast knowledge of our collection and experience helping patrons find the books they are looking for has been such an asset.  You will be hearing from Deena through blog posts in the future because she has generously provided us with book reviews for later blog posts.  Please help us in thanking Deena for her service and wishing her all the best.

Check out these book reviews from Deena, a member of the Library’s Patron Service Team. Let us know if you would like any titles added to your booklist or head over to BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download) to download the titles now.  Need more information about BARD?  See our BARD Page.

Plainsong by Kent Haraf  DB49056, LT 7463

A young high school girl, Victoria becomes pregnant and her mother kicks her out of the house.  She gets help from one of her teachers who arranges for Victoria to live with two old bachelor ranchers. They come to care about Victoria and her child. Some of the other interesting characters living in Holt, Colorado are; Maggie Jones, who lives with her elderly father suffering from dementia, Tom Guthrie, a teacher who helps to support Victoria, Tom’s sons Ike and Bobby learning to live without their mother, and Tom’s wife is depressed and gone to live elsewhere.

March Forward Girl by Melba Beals   DB90630

Childhood memoir of growing up in the hostile Jim Crow South that led to Beals’s activism and desire for equality.  Melba grows up in Little Rock, Arkansas in the 1940’s and longs for freedom and equal treatment.  Her grandmother is the guiding force in her life and raises Melba and her brother while her mother works. Melba eventually volunteered to be one of nine black students to enroll in Little Rock’s all-white Central High School in 1957.

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell  DB93135

This is a psychological thriller about a young seventeen-year-old woman, Ellie who was kidnapped by someone she knew and held captive in a basement.  The reader learns how each of her family members deals with Ellie’s disappearance. Her mother, Laurel, after a number of years moves on and falls in love with Floyd who has a young daughter, Poppy aged nine who looks a lot like, Ellie. Laurel adores Poppy but believes Floyd is keeping things from her.  This book will keep you guessing until the end.

Camino Winds by John Grisham  DB99615

Bruce Cable, bookstore owner from the book Camino Island returns.  Camino Island has a hurricane and many houses and businesses on the island are destroyed or badly damaged.  Nelson Kerr, author and a friend of Bruce’s appears to have been killed during the storm, but his death is suspicious. Bruce and his friends investigate and find it was related to the book he was writing.


Book Reviews From Deena

Check out these book reviews from Deena, a member of the Library’s Patron Service Team. Let us know if you would like any titles added to your booklist or head over to BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download) to download the titles now.  Need more information about BARD?  See our BARD Page.

War Brides by Lois Battle  DB17682
This book follows three Australian women who married American G. I.’s after the end of World War II and came over on a ship to the United States to join their husbands.  For each of them, their marriage does not turn out the way she thought it would.
Dawn: a war widow and new bride with two daughters finds a home in Ohio with her in-laws while her husband, Zac is in the Navy.
Sheila: a teenager who moves to the hills of Virginia with her husband, Billy.
Gaynor: a beautiful woman who moves in with her wealthy in-laws in Kansas City while her husband, Rickey is completing school back east.

Finding Me: A Decade of Darkness, A Life Reclaimed: A Memoir of the Cleveland Kidnappings by Michelle Knight   DB78946
This is the horrific story of Michelle Knight, who was kidnapped in 2002, by someone she thought she knew.  She was held in a home for over 10 years.  Two other young girls kidnapped after Michelle, by the same man were also held against their will. Each of the girls suffered terribly, being beaten, not being fed, and tortured. Michelle spent much of the time chained to the other captive, Gina.  She explains some of her innermost thoughts and things she did to escape from the hell she was forced in which to live, which kept her going. She and the other two girls were finally rescued in 2013. (Violence and descriptions of sex)

The Green Mile: a novel in six parts by Stephen King DB44564
Have you always wanted to try reading a Stephen King novel, but you were afraid it would be too scary?  I would recommend the magical book The Green Mile.  This takes place in a prison in the 1930s.  John Coffey is awaiting execution for a crime he did not commit.  Paul, the guard, soon learns John has a special gift.  This book is definitely a power struggle between good and evil. One of the prisoners taunts and threatens the other prisoners and another one of the prison guards, Percy, creates drama where ever he goes. This book has everything.  It is happy, sad, poignant, and humorous. Enjoy the magical ride!

Beautiful Lies by Lisa Unger  DB61604
Ridley Jones rescues a child from being hit by a car and her picture appears in the newspaper.  She soon receives a clipping in the mail. Her life is turned upside down because everything she thought she knew about her life and who she was may not be true. This sends her on a quest to find her true identity.


Book Reviews From Deena

Check out these book reviews from Deena, a member of the Library’s Patron Service Team. Let us know if you would like any titles added to your booklist or head over to BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download) to download the titles now.  Need more information about BARD?  See our BARD Page.

Debbie–My Life by Debbie Reynolds DB29097, LT8419
This biography is about the life of Mary Frances Reynolds whose name was later changed to Debbie Reynolds.  Mary Frances got her start in show business when she entered the Miss Burbank contest.  She did not want to win or expect to win but entered so she could get a free blouse and scarf.  She won and was asked to do a screen test for Warner Brothers studio.  Reynolds was an excellent mimic and became a big star.  Her biography tells of her three marriages including her tumultuous marriage to Eddie Fisher.  She had a good relationship with her two children Carrie Fisher and Todd Fisher.  Her second husband, Harry Karl was a big gambler and gambled away nearly everything Debbie had.  After her divorce, she sometimes lived out of her car.  She finally found happiness with her third husband.  If you enjoyed Debbie in one many movies Singin’ in the Rain, Tammy, or Unsinkable Molly Brown you’ll enjoy this book.

The Borden Murders: Lizzie Borden and the trial of the century by Sarah Miller  DB84888
If you know nothing about the Borden murders that Lizzie Borden was accused of committing, this is a well-researched book.  She covers Lizzie through the arrest, grand jury and the inquest trying to show both sides of the story.

Survival in Auschwitz by Primo Levi   DB76690
This is a different type of memoir divided into chapters such as The Work, A Good Day, This Side of Good and Evil.  Levi is Italian and Jewish, who spent less than a year in Auschwitz, before the camp was liberated on Jan. 18, 1945.  Primo Levi was injured and spent time in the “sick bay” while in the concentration camp.  He saw one of his bunkmates sent to the crematorium.  This book is recommended reading for a number of different courses throughout the world.

Who was Princess Diana?  By Ellen Labrecque  DBC15023
This is one of a series of biographies written for children about famous people.  The book introduces you to Diana Spencer and her family following her through her growing-up years.  It explains the Spencer’s connection to the royal family.  It talks about Diana’s wedding and the births of children.  Lastly, her death and how she was loved by the people.  If you are interested in this series some of the other biographies that have been recorded are; Walt Disney, Albert Einstein, J.K. Rowling, and Steve Jobs.

Throwback Thursday

It’s Throwback Thursday, where we talk about a book we enjoyed years ago!  Today Tim, Digital Recording Specialist/Studio Manager for the library, takes us back.

Are you looking forward to warmer weather, outdoor activities, and longer days? I know I am! When I was a kid, one of the things that spring meant to me was – get out the bat, ball, and glove – we’re going to play baseball! Fast forward to Spring 2008, I’m one year shy of 50 and still playing, albeit a little more “leisure” version – softball. It’s April, and I’m in the Studio at the Iowa Library for the Blind with volunteer narrator David, recording the book Playing with the enemy: a baseball prodigy, a world at war, and the long journey home (DBC01551). We both got completely immersed in this book! This is one of the few books I have recorded in our studio, that at one point (later in the book) it had both David and myself crying – we had to stop the recording session and finish that chapter on a different day! I loved reading this book, and if you like baseball – even a little – and have some memories of the war, I imagine this book will also really touch you in a good way.

Two things really struck me after we finished this book – one, I had a lot of “forgotten” fantastic memories of how much I really loved baseball, and two – the “game” of baseball can really shape a person with many aspects of life – like supporting and encouraging one another, learning how to graciously win and lose, how to work hard and see positive results – even when “defeated”!

There is a reason baseball is often referred to as “America’s National Pastime” and I think in part because it inspires, it instills pride, and even it can even heal!

About the book:
Playing with the enemy: a baseball prodigy, a world at war, and the long journey home DBC01551
Moore, Gary W, (Gary Warren). Reading time: 11 hours, 58 minutes.

Read by David Saurman. A production of Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Iowa Department for the Blind.

Gene Moore was a country boy who could hit a baseball a country mile. He was so good that the Brooklyn Dodgers came calling. When Gene’s baseball career was interrupted by World War II, he joined the U.S. Navy, and in 1944, he found himself on a top-secret mission: to guard the German sailors captured from a U-505 submarine carrying an Enigma decoding machine. Stuck with guard duty, Gene taught the enemy how to play baseball. It was a decision that irrevocably changed his life… and maybe baseball itself. Inspired by true events. 2006.

Is there a book that takes you back?

Book Reviews From Deena

Check out these book reviews from Deena, a member of the Library’s Patron Service Team. Let us know if you would like any titles added to your booklist or head over to BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download) to download the titles now.  Need more information about BARD?  See our BARD Page.

Benediction by Kent Haruf  DB77097
You might think that because this book is about an old man dying of cancer this book would be a downer. I did not find it so. It is beautifully written. The kindness of the dying old man, his friends, and neighbors make this book a delight.  This book could be a standalone from the series. Highly recommended.

Hillbilly Elegy by J. D. Vance  DB85796
J.D. Vance grew up in a poverty-stricken area in Ohio. His mother was a drug user and abusive. When things got too bad at home he would go to his grandparent’s house.  Despite his situation, J.D. grew up and joined the Marines, and eventually graduated from Yale Law School. This is a touching memoir of overcoming the odds and becoming an inspiration to others.

The Johnstown Girls by Kathleen George  DB78994
This is the story of Ellen who with her twin sister went through the 1889 Johnstown, PA flood.  Ellen does not know what happened to her sister but has a feeling she lived. At 104, she tells the story of her survival to a reporter on the anniversary of the flood. The reporter and his girlfriend work with Ellen to find out what happened to her twin sister.

The Dog Who Came to Stay by Hal Borland  DB64728
If you like dogs, you will enjoy this book.   Two dogs came to the home of the author on Christmas on a cold, snowy night in Connecticut a number of decades ago.  Both Hal, the author, and Barbara, his wife agreed that they did not want or need a dog.  Enjoy the antics of Pat, a true gentleman and country dog, who adopted Hal and Barbara as his own.

True Sisters by Sandra Dallas  DBC01589, LT10719
This book of historical fiction is based on the 1856 migration of the Mormons from Iowa to Salt Lake City, Utah.  The people used handcarts instead of wagons.  They made the mistake of starting late in July, so the weather was a factor in their journey. It was a dangerous trip and many died from the cold, starvation, or drowned crossing rivers.  They finally reached Salt Lake City in November with a much smaller group than they started.  Follow the perils of these pioneers as they cross the United States to Zion.  This audiobook was produced by our library.

When I Found You by Catherine Ryan Hyde  DBC15164
Nathan finds an abandoned baby boy on a hunting trip.  Once the newborn is identified, he is given to his grandmother to raise. Nathan never forgets the child and leaves him gifts for his birthday. The grandmother names him Nat after the man who found him.  The grandmother is strict and Nat is a rebellious teenager so she asks Nathan to raise him.  Nathan is more than happy to take the boy as he always cared for him. The grandmother remains in touch.  As Nat grows older, he thinks he wants to become a boxer.  He trains to fight and gets his opportunity to earn some money when he does well in a boxing match.  A promoter asks him to stay on to fight in an unregulated fight for big money and is seriously injured.  During his recovery, Nat loses interest in everything, so Nathan and Nat’s wife try to get him to come out of his funk.  Nathan buys a boxing gym for Nat, trying to interest him in coaching and Nat finally comes around to working as a boxing coach.  This book is a great example of love between a parent and a child. This audiobook was produced by our library.