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 book list or head over to BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download) to download the titles now.  Need more information about BARD?  See our BARD Page.

Spoken from the Heart by Laura Bush  DB71205  BR21557
Laura Bush grew up an only child in Texas.  As an only child, she loved reading and later became a teacher and a librarian.  Two things that affected her growing up years were:  At the age of 17, she was driving with a friend and hit and killed one of her close friends, a boy driving from another direction. The other thing was the shooting President John F. Kennedy in Texas. Laura met George Bush and they were engaged after six weeks. George was very interested in politics and Laura was not, but she helped him campaign as he ran for congress, then governor of Texas and finally President of the United States. The Bush family was left in limbo after the 2000, presidential election when the state of Florida’s election process was in question, and the Supreme Court finally had to rule that the manual Florida recount had violated the Constitution. The event of September 11, 2001 happened during her husband’s presidency.  President Bush was flown all of the country during September 11, to make sure he was safe. At the end of the day, Sept 11, the secret service wanted the president to stay away from Washington, D.C., but he insisted that they return to White House to make sure his family was safe.  Then came the anthrax mail scare and mail all over the country was held up and examined.   Mrs. Bush candidly speaks about her marriage, her relationship to the Bushes and the birth of her twin daughters.  She inserts numerous tidbits of history in speaking of their days in the White House. She talks frankly about the White House events, her numerous trips and meeting various people.  This is an eye-opening book about Laura’s life and living in the White House.

The Pact: Three Young Men Make a Promise and Fulfill a Dream by Sampson Davis  DB54458
Three young men growing up in Newark, New Jersey made a pact in high school to support each other and stick together and go on to college together.
The young men include:  George Jenkins who always wanted to be a dentist. He was encouraged at an early age to go to college.  George had the most stable environment of the three.  Sampson Davis who at an early age realized his mother could not read.  Her own mother had died when she was seven, so his mother helped to take care of her brothers and sisters and then married at fifteen. Sampson’s mother encouraged him to go to school and get good grades. Rameck Hunt whose parents were addicted to drugs was raised by his beloved grandmother. Their home town of Newark was a place with drugs, shootings and other illegal activity.  Only one of the three managed to stay out of trouble growing up. All three young men agreed to go to Seaton Hall together to become doctors.  I think that at times they believed it would never happen and it was just a whim.  While going to college wasn’t easy all three achieved high grades. There were many pitfalls along the way, including money issues, things they weren’t prepared for, but all three of them made it and became doctors returning to the area where they grew up to practice. They founded a foundation to encourage students to make goals and realize them and were also in demand as motivational speakers. This is an uplifting read and could be used as motivation for students.

Desert Heat by J. A. Jance (First in series of Joanna Brady Mysteries)  DB81543  BRC00696
Joanna Brady finds her husband, Andrew Brady, a deputy sheriff for Cochise Co Arizona, shot and near death in a wash on her tenth anniversary.  Things just don’t add up, his truck is locked and his gun is found under the truck.  The sheriff’s department seems to think Andy attempted to commit suicide.  Then there is the unexplained large amount of money deposited in the Brady’s checking account by Andy with an unknown young woman.  Joanna continues to believe Andy is innocent while several others believe that the money came from the sale of drugs.  Joanna is out to clear the name of her husband and soon becomes involved with a woman who thinks she knows the truth of who killed Andy. This is a good, clean mystery series with interesting characters and relationships.

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 book list or head over to BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download) to download the titles now.  Need more information about BARD?  See our BARD Page.

Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts (DB94079)
The story flips back and forth from the making of the movie of The Wizard of Oz in 1939, to the love story of L. Frank Baum, the author of The Wizard of Oz and Maud Gage.  Maud, a long time widow in 1939, goes to the studio to see that the movie being filmed stays true to the story written by her husband.  Frank Baum was a man before his time, always imagining what the future would hold. He enthralled children with his stories of fantasy. Frank and Maude were deeply in love, but struggled financially until Frank wrote his first book of nonsense poetry. He later found greater success with the book The Wizard of Oz. This book was well researched and although fiction, much of the story is based on fact. Recommended for those who grew up seeing the movie The Wizard of Oz on television once a year.
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Mistaken Identity by Don and Susie Van Ryn and Newell, Colleen and Whitney Cerak (DB66537)
In 2006, in Indiana a Taylor University van carrying five students and one staff member was hit by a semi that crossed the median and struck the van.  The lone survivor was a female student, Laura Van Ryn. Laura was taken to a hospital with a broken collar bone, elbow and leg and severe head trauma. The Van Ryn family rushed to the hospital in Fort Wayne, Indiana and the family stood by Laura, while she endured physical therapy as well as, speech therapy.  Her sister, Lisa learned how to perform simple procedures to make Laura more comfortable. Laura at first, was in a coma and as the weeks past she became more aware and talkative. Five weeks after the accident the physical therapist asked Laura to write her name. She wrote Whitney.  The nurses assured the Van Ryn’s that the head trauma can cause the brain to misfire.  The next day as Lisa was wheeling Laura down the hall she asked Laura her name and she said Whitney.  She then asked for her last name and who her parents were. Lisa was convinced that for the last five weeks they had been loving, praying for mistakenly been identified as Laura Van Ryn. The Van Ryns were devastated and the Cereks were questioning how this happened as they drove to the hospital. Whitney was glad to see her family. The Van Ryns and the Cereks formed an unbreakable bond in caring for Whitney and both knowing what it was like to lose a child.
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A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman (DB84392)
Ove is a curmudgeon.  He keeps to himself and does not involve himself with anyone.  Having been let go at a job he held for many years, he feels useless.  His wife has died and he just wants to be with her.  He visits her grave frequently. He decides to end his life, but every time he tries to commit suicide he is interrupted by neighbors wanting to borrow tools or needing rides.  Ove eventually becomes involved with his neighbors and is teaching one neighbor to drive. A group of neighbors bans together to prevent one neighbor from being sent to a nursing home.  This book is written with humor and compassion.  It can be enjoyed by all ages.
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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 book list or head over to BARD to download the titles now.

Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld
Violet and Daisy are twins and both have psychic abilities. In their teen years, they are not well accepted by their peers. They rely on each other for companionship, but when they go off to college Daisy reinvents herself and becomes Kate and Violet drops out of school. Violet counts on her psychic skills to make a living and Kate marries and has a family. Violet floats through life and Kate feels the need to take care of her. Violet predicts an earthquake for the St. Louis area and is suddenly thrust into the lime light. Kate’s husband, Jeremy is attending a conference on the date of the predicted earthquake. Kate begs him to stay home. While Jeremy is gone Kate does something to jeopardize her marriage. This book is about relationships with parents, siblings, spouses and children. DB77180
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Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson
I wanted to read this because, I thought mistakenly, like the author, that soon after the sinking of the Lusitania that the United States entered World War I. My grandfather served in World War I and I was interested in the events that would have happened before my grandparents married. Several things in this book made me angry. Winston Churchill perpetuating the myth that the U-boat fired two torpedoes. The fact that Room 40 knew where that U-boat was every day, days before the sinking of the Lusitania, and yet they provided no security. The blaming of the Captain of the Lusitania for its sinking was ludicrous. Following some of the passengers and learning what happened to them was interesting. If you enjoy history, particularly maritime history, you will enjoy this book. DB80936
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A Mothers Reckoning by Sue Klebold
This book is the raw, emotional journey of Sue Klebold. She took this journey after her son, Dylan along with Eric Harris shot and killed a teacher and 12 students and injuring 20 more at Columbine High School. Sue felt like a failure as a mother and searched her memory to find signs of what Dylan had done. Her family was ostracized for many years after the tragedy. In the end, she was so consumed by trying to understand what went wrong that she and her husband, who just wanted to move on with life, divorced. She finally concluded that Dylan had mental health issues and this was an easy way to die or commit suicide. A thought provoking book. Whether you agree with Sue’s conclusions or not this was painful to all who were touched by it. DB83764
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The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff
The story takes place during World War II. Noa was cast out by her family when she became pregnant at a young age. Her baby was adopted. As she makes her way through the countryside she rescues a baby from a train car bound for a concentration camp. She raises the boy as her own. She joins a circus touring Europe and becomes an aerialist. The ringmaster is a kind man hiding several Jewish people in his employ. The circus in Germany at the time, was the only entertainment that kept the people’s mind off the despair of war. This is an interesting tale with a twist at the end. DB89826
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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 book list or head over to BARD to download the titles now.

Stars Over Clear Lake by Loretta Ellsworth
Lorraine Kindred has lost her husband of many years.  The book switches back and forth from present day to the 1940’s when Lorraine met her husband as a young girl. The iconic Surf Ballroom figures into the story where Lorraine attended many dances. Lorraine’s son-in-law is very intrigued with the history of the Surf Ballroom.  He has done some research and found that the original Surf Ballroom was destroyed by fire in 1947.  It was later rebuilt. Knowing that Lorraine had attended dances about that time, he asks her about the fire.  Lorraine remains evasive. This is great love story with an Iowa setting and a little bit of mystery.  DBC15165

The Day Donny Herbert Woke Up by Rich Blake
This is the true story of Donny Herbert, a Buffalo, New York fire fighter who was injured on the job and went into a coma in December 1995. He woke up from his coma in April 2005 and talked to his family for 16 hours straight.  Was it the family’s faith in God, the doctor’s drug cocktail or Donny’s own determination to come back to his family or a combination of those things? Soon afterwards, Donny slipped back into his comatose state and died in February 2006 of pneumonia.  A wonderful story of a miracle, faith, and courage.  DB64976

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Tisha by Robert Specht
Based on the true story of Anne Hobbs who traveled to Alaska in 1927, on horseback to become a teacher in the small town of Chicken, Alaska.  Anne faces harsh weather and has some harrowing experiences as she finds love in this in this isolated wilderness.  She takes in two children when their mother dies of tuberculosis.  The boy calls her “Tisha” instead of teacher. She and her husband, Fred, adopt the two children along with several others. This is one of 100 Favorite Novels Recommended by Librarians.  DB41798

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The All-American Murder: The Rise and Fall of Aaron Hernandez, the superstar whose Life Ended of Murderer’s Row by James Patterson
Aaron Hernandez was an extremely talented young man drafted by the New England Patriots.  He was a rising star on the team. On June 18, 2013, for unknown reasons he killed his friend, Odin Lloyd who was the boyfriend of his fiancée’s sister.  All evidence pointed to Hernandez and he was convicted and sentenced to death row.  While on trial for Lloyd’s murder he was charged with shooting two men in their car.  Almost two years to the day of Odin Lloyd’s murder, Hernandez hung himself in his prison cell.  Recommended for football fans and readers of true crime.  DB90220

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Hillbilly Elegy by J. D. Vance
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.  DB85796
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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 book list or head over to BARD to download the titles now.

Welcome to the World, Baby Girl!  by Fannie Flagg
Dena Nordstrom’s life is out of control.  She is drinking too much, cannot maintain a relationship and it is affecting her health. Dena is beautiful and has a high powered job as a TV personality.  She goes into therapy. As the therapist pushes, she learns Deana’s mother, Marian Chapman abandoned her at age 15.  As Dena digs deeper into her past, she finds out Marian Chapman did not exist.  Who was her mother?  Why did she leave Dena alone? What happened to her?  DB47006, LT5786
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Island of Lost Girls by Jennifer McMahon
Rhonda Farr was at a gas station when she sees someone in a rabbit suit get out of a car and go over to a car with a young girl, take her by the hand and lead her to his car and take off. Rhonda can’t believe what she has just seen.  Thinking back, Rhonda remembers a similar rabbit costume from long ago. Her best friend, Lizzie’s father dressed up as the Easter bunny. Lizzie’s father, Daniel disappeared almost three years after that and Lizzie disappeared several years later. The last time Rhonda heard from Lizzie was a number of years ago, when she was in high school. Lizzie sent a postcard claiming to be with Daniel. Rhonda feeling guilty, turns “detective” to find out who took the little girl from the car.  DB67786
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Losing It and Gaining My Life Back One Pound at a Time by Valerie Bertinelli
This is a gossipy book about the girl next door and her tumultuous marriage to a rock star.  Valerie Bertinelli, star of “One Day at a Time”, writes of her dysfunctional marriage to Eddie Van Halen.  The couple always seemed to be going in different directions with their careers, never taking time to be together and work on their marriage. Valerie suffered from body image problems from her teens into adulthood. She learned she always tried to solve her problems with food.  She later became a spokeswoman for Jennie Craig and learned to love herself as she was.  DB66058
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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 book list or head over to BARD to download the titles now.

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly
This book is told through the viewpoint of three women in the 1930’s and 1940’s as World War II begins. Caroline is a New England socialite whose passion is saving the orphaned children of France, Kasia, is a 16 year old Polish girl who eventually joins the resistance movement, Herta is a strong believer in the Nazi movement and wants to become a doctor. As the story progresses these three women’s stories cross paths. The story is based on the true story of Caroline Ferriday and her philanthropy for the children of France and those who survived the war.  DB84356
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Caroline: Little House, Revisted by Sarah Miller
If you loved Laura Ingalls Wilder as a child or enjoyed the TV show Little House on the Prairie this book might appeal to you.  The book Caroline is a fictionalized account of how life might have been for Caroline Ingalls, mother of Laura Ingalls. The Ingalls family left their home in Wisconsin and set out by covered wagon while snow was still on the ground, for Kansas with two little girls.  The book tells the story of the hardships they faced in Kansas away from civilization and family. The book was researched by Miller and the reasons they left and later moved from Kansas is well-documented.  DB89267
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Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan
Pino Lella, as a teenager becomes involved in the resistance movement to ferry Jews out of Italy and over the Italian mountains into the safety of Switzerland.  Rather than be drafted into the Italian army his parents convince him to sign up for the German army.  Pino becomes a driver for Nazi General and a spy for the Allied forces. He faces several terrifying moments when he is nearly caught by the General working for the Allies. This is based on a true story.  DB90012
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Paper Wife by Laila Ibrahim
California 1923:Mei Ling comes to America through a matchmaker for an arranged marriage.  Her husband, Kai Li is a merchant and a U.S. citizen needing a wife for his son. On board the ship to America Mei Ling meets a young orphan girl, who coming to America with an “uncle”.  Mei Ling comes to care about the girl.  Mei Ling and Kai Li have both been untruthful with each other. Can their marriage survive and will they learn to love each other?  DB93176
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