Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Burning Room by Michael Connelly

The Burning Room
Michael Connelly

Little Brown and Company
Pages:  400

Cold case detectives, Bosch and Soto in LA are trying to solve a murder that turns out to be politically sensitive even after 20 years.  The victim of a shooting who has had a bullet  lodged for years in the his spine dies and they must pull new leads from years-old evidence, to reveal that the shooting was anything but random.
As their investigation progresses, it leads to another unsolved case with even greater stakes: the deaths of several children in a fire that occurred twenty years ago. But when their work starts to threaten careers and lives, Bosch and Soto must decide whether it is worth risking everything to find the truth, or if it’s safer to let some secrets stay buried.
My Thoughts:  I enjoyed the story - another book in the Harry Bosch story.  Harry is paired with Lucy Soto, a young hot-shot detective, who seems to be a perfect partner for Harry.   The crime scenarios are interesting and the fast-paced work of Bosch and Soto kept me wanting to know how the crimes were going to be solved.  With a twist at the very end.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Auschwitz Escape by Joel C. Rosenberg

The Auschwitz Escape
Joel C. Rosenberg

Tyndale House
Pages:  480


As the Nazi war machine rolls across Europe, Jacob Weisz if forced to flee Germany and join an underground resistance group in Belgium.  In occupied France, assistant pastor Jean-Luc Leclerc and his wife find themselves the accidental organizers of a relief movement involving their entire town, as Jews from all all over Europe arrive at their door, hoping for shelter from the growing threat from the Nazi war machine.

WWII finds both  Jacob and Jean-Luc living in a nightmare, both ending up in Auschwitz and sentenced to hard labor.   The unlikely pair, a Protestant pastor and the Jewish freedom fighter, are chosen to to risk a most daring and dangerous feat - escape from Auschwitz.  How will they get out, only a handful of escapees have made it in the past. In their quest to tell the world about the Nazi's Final Solution, they will risk it all.

My Thoughts:

I found this novel to be very compelling - a real page turner.  Jacob and Jean-Luc are both very believable characters and one that you really cared about.  Rosenberg did a wonderful job of creating a fictionalized account of a truly horrible time in the lives of the Jewish people in Europe.  The trip thought Auschwitz and the Nazi machine was horrific and very close to factual accounts of the concentration camps.  Mr. Rosenberg used the true stories to create and his fictionalized account of life inside Auschwitz very successfully.

You very much wanted and anticipated the escape of Jacob and Jean-Luc to succeed to end the horrors of Auschwitz.

The Boy On the Wooden Box: a Memoir by Leon Leyson

The Boy on the Wooden Box:  a memoir 
Leon Leyson

Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Pages:  231

This powerful memoir of one of the youngest boys on Schindler’s list deserves to be shared. Leon Leyson grew up in Poland as the youngest of five children. As WWII breaks out, Leyson’s ingenuity and bravery, combined with the kindness of strangers and a bit of serendipity, save his life, time and again. The storytelling can at times meander, and the various reflections of his life in Poland during the war can result in a certain patchiness, but Leyson’s experiences and memories still make for compelling reading about what it was like to suffer through the Holocaust. This memoir is a natural curriculum addition to WWII units for upper-elementary- and middle-school readers. Be sure to have additional materials on hand about Oskar Schindler, as readers will want to do more research into Leyson’s story. Grades 4-7. --Sarah Bean Thompson. (BOOKLIST)

My Thoughts:

I loved this book.  I had previously read Schindler's List and found the book very compelling but this memoir is a true remembrance from one of the Jewish workers actually saved by Mr. Schindler.   Leon was just a young boy when the Nazis invaded Poland and the story tell of how his family survived during this time in Poland and how decisions made before the war begins and during lead to some of the family surviving and other not.   Leon became a real face to the many stories that I have read about the Holocaust.  

SILENT SISTER by Diane Chamberlain

SILENT SISTER by Diane Chamberlain
copyright 2014
ISBN:  978-1250010411
343 pages

THE SILENT SISTER is a novel of love, loss, and the bonds among siblings.

Riley MacPherson has lived her whole life believing that her older sister committed suicide.
Now, more than twenty years later, her father has passed away and she's in New Bern, North Caroline, cleaning out his house, when she finds evidence that what she has always believed is not the truth.  Lisa, her sister, is alive and living under a new identity.  But why, has she been on the run all those years?  What secrets are being kept now, and what will happen if those secrets are revealed?

This book has a lot of twists and turns.  It will really hold your interest to the very end.

Monday, December 8, 2014

SECOND NATURE by Jacquelyn Mitchard

539 pages
ISBN:  978-1611732030

Sicily Coyne was just thirteen when her face was disfigured and her firefighter father was killed in a school fire.  Twelve years later, a young doctor offers hope in the form of a new surgery that may give Sicily back the facial functions she has lost. This could turn out to be her second chance.

At first Sicily rejects the offer, but when a secret surfaces that shatters her world, she changes her mind and has the radical procedure.

Her beauty restored practically overnight, Sicily embraces her new life by seeking new experiences,
adventures and love. But, she soon discovers that her new face carries with it risks that she could have never imagined. She is soon confronted with a personal moral and medical crisis that quickly becomes a matter of life and death.  She is surrounded by experts and her family, but the choice that will transform her future--for better or worse--is one she must make alone.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

The Glass Castle: A Memior
Jeannette Walls

288 pages

Jeannette Walls grew up with parents whose ideals and stubborn nonconformity were both their curse and their salvation. Rex and Rose Mary Walls had four children. In the beginning, they lived like nomads, moving among Southwest desert towns, camping in the mountains. Rex was a charismatic, brilliant man who, when sober, captured his children's imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and above all, how to embrace life fearlessly. Rose Mary, who painted and wrote and couldn't stand the responsibility of providing for her family, called herself an "excitement addict." Cooking a meal that would be consumed in fifteen minutes had no appeal when she could make a painting that might last forever.
Later, when the money ran out, or the romance of the wandering life faded, the Walls retreated to the dismal West Virginia mining town -- and the family -- Rex Walls had done everything he could to escape. He drank. He stole the grocery money and disappeared for days. As the dysfunction of the family escalated, Jeannette and her brother and sisters had to fend for themselves, supporting one another as they weathered their parents' betrayals and, finally, found the resources and will to leave home.
What is so astonishing about Jeannette Walls is not just that she had the guts and tenacity and intelligence to get out, but that she describes her parents with such deep affection and generosity. Hers is a story of triumph against all odds, but also a tender, moving tale of unconditional love in a family that despite its profound flaws gave her the fiery determination to carve out a successful life on her own terms.
For two decades, Jeannette Walls hid her roots. Now she tells her own story. A regular contributor to, she lives in New York and Long Island and is married to the writer John Taylor. (

My Thoughts -  This is one of those books that really opens up your eyes to another way of life.  We know that we all have issues that we do not like to discuss in public but Jeannette Walls's life as a child was a nightmare in my eyes but somehow she learns to survive and learn from the trials and tribulations that we associate with homelessness, addiction, and mental illness.  Her parents were a contradiction in how they saw their roles as parents.  They were always teaching their children something but in the next paragraph they were sleeping in a car and going hungry.  Family was very important but at the same time the parents were very selfish and thinking only of themselves.  In spite of the life the children were forced to lead, they grew up to be successful with some damage but  generally healthy adults.

I read this book for a book discussion group and it lead to many very good conversations.  I think that we all went away with a different vision of homeless people.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Ruth's Journey: The Authorized Novel of Mammy from Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind Hardcover – October 14, 2014

Authorized by the Margaret Mitchell Estate, here is the first-ever prequel to one of the most beloved and bestselling novels of all time, Gone with the Wind. The critically acclaimed author of Rhett Butler’s People magnificently recounts the life of Mammy, one of literature’s greatest supporting characters, from her days as a slave girl to the outbreak of the Civil War.

“Her story began with a miracle.” On the Caribbean island of Saint Domingue, an island consumed by the flames of revolution, a senseless attack leaves only one survivor—an infant girl. She falls into the hands of two French émigrés, Henri and Solange Fournier, who take the beautiful child they call Ruth to the bustling American city of Savannah.

What follows is the sweeping tale of Ruth’s life as shaped by her strong-willed mistress and other larger-than-life personalities she encounters in the South: Jehu Glen, a free black man with whom Ruth falls madly in love; the shabbily genteel family that first hires Ruth as Mammy; Solange’s daughter Ellen and the rough Irishman, Gerald O’Hara, whom Ellen chooses to marry; the Butler family of Charleston and their shocking connection to Mammy Ruth; and finally Scarlett O’Hara—the irrepressible Southern belle Mammy raises from birth. As we witness the difficult coming of age felt by three generations of women, gifted storyteller Donald McCaig reveals a portrait of Mammy that is both nuanced and poignant, at once a proud woman and a captive, and a strict disciplinarian who has never experienced freedom herself. But despite the cruelties of a world that has decreed her a slave, Mammy endures, a rock in the river of time. She loves with a ferocity that would astonish those around her if they knew it. And she holds tight even to those who have been lost in the ravages of her days.

Set against the backdrop of the South from the 1820s until the dawn of the Civil War, here is a remarkable story of fortitude, heartbreak, and indomitable will—and a tale that will forever illuminate your reading of Margaret Mitchell’s unforgettable classic, Gone with the Wind.

This was a tough read.  The book was written in a style that would tell the story prior to Gone with the Wind.  Slavery is a hard subject to read about.  The mistreatment of any human being is wrong.  The story tells of the life of Mammy.  She faced all types of people, good, bad and otherwise.