The Cunard line ship Lusitania had successfully and swiftly completed 201 crossings of the Atlantic Ocean by April 1915. It was huge and sleek, with four funnels rather than three, making it the fastest trans-Atlantic liner then in existence. The first class areas of the ship were beautifully fitted, the food delicious, and every comfort supplied; including crew members to take charge of the many children aboard. The second and third class passengers were also well treated, as Cunard’s manual demanded. Despite the fact that Germany had just declared the seas around B
I love Jon Ronson’s writing, and his newest offering is no exception. So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed has a slightly different angle than his other titles. Ronson generally writes about strange things that fascinate him: something a bit off the beaten path or out of the ordinary. Public shaming, Ronson essentially observes, is becoming the beaten path; rather than being fascinated by its prevalence, he’s terrified.
"A Spool of Blue Thread" is the 20th novel written by the prolific Anne Tyler. The Pulitzer Prize-winning author casts her words in the direction of family dynamics surrounding three generations of Whitshanks who take turns living in patriarch Junior's home: handcrafted by his own construction company in the 1930's. Upon Junior and Linnie Mae's passing, Red and Abby Whitshank take residence in the same space on Bouton Road in Baltimore, Maryland. Here, they raised four children atop the same floorboards where the grandchildren now run.
Avery is on her way back home for Thanksgiving break when the plane she is traveling on crashes into a remote lake in the Colorado Rockies. Out of the 200 passengers on board the only survivors are Avery, Collin, Avery’s teammate on her college swim team, and three young boys. It takes all of Avery and Collin’s swimming skills to get themselves and the boys safely out of the sunken wreckage, but what awaits them out of the water is just as frightening. Their story is told alternating between present day and flashbacks of the 5 days they were trapped in the mountains.
Ensign Andrew Dahl has just come aboard the Intrepid, flagship of the Universal Union, for his new posting. He’s excited about the potential for his career—after all, some of the most famous UU officers are in charge of the ship and a few away missions will improve his chances for promotion.
It’s no surprise that Helene Wecker’s first novel, The Golem and the Jinni, won the 2014 Harold U. Ribalow prize. This adult fairy tale reminds the reader of the works of Kafka or Isaac Bashevis Singer. At turns it is funny but it can be dark. The Golem (Chava) is a creature made out of clay and the Jinni (Ahmad), born of fire, has been trapped inside a copper flask for many generations. It’s 1899 in New York City with a focus on the streets and rooftops of Manhattan. Immigrants abound.
Adam Resnick has pulled together hilarious tales from his life that illustrate his reluctance to interact with people and the belligerence that raises its head when he is forced into social situations. He “refuses to be burdened by chores like basic social obligation and personal growth, living instead by his own steadfast rule: I refuse to do anything I don’t want to do.” Resnick is an Academy Award-winning author for NBC’s “Late Night with David Letterman,” so his self-deprecation is no surprise.
I am not usually a fan of poetry, but this book is an exception. Many forms of poetry are used to tell the story of Matthew Shepherd, the University of Wyoming student who was brutally beaten and left to die on a fence post in October 1998, merely because he was gay. The poet, Lesléa Newman, writes poems from the perspective of various people involved, as well as inanimate objects (ie. the fence, the road). The result is incredibly moving.
When I originally saw a preview for this book, I thought, “My ten year old son is going to love this”. What science-minded kid doesn’t want to know how to make a burglar alarm with potato chips or how to open a padlock with a tin can? Unfortunately, once I actually got a chance to take a look at the book myself, I found that due to some of the content, it may be better suited for a more mature audience. That being said, I found the book quite funny and entertaining. In fact, if you were ever a fan of the old TV series, The Red Green Show, you may enjoy this author’s humor.
Redemptive love and courage under extraordinary circumstances are primary story themes in "The Nightingale" by Kristin Hannah. Two sisters, Vianne Mauriac and Isabelle Rossignol, learn that life is not always what one may wish it to be when World War II invades hearts and souls during the German Occupation of France. The older sister is a cautious, responsible wife and mother, who makes choices based on what feels safe and less consequential. The younger sister is an impulsive, idealistic free spirit who believes she can save a broken world fr
This fabulous selection of letters provides a glimpse of a wide range of personalities who changed history as well as the personal side of both famous and not-so-famous people. There are letters by presidents, businessmen, school children, criminals, musicians, artists, and soldiers from the 1340 BC to modern times.
William Alexander loves the French language, the music and landscape of France, French food, French history, French politics; in fact he loves everything about France. At the advanced age of 57 he decides to overcome his horrible memories of Madame D., his high school French teacher, and attempts to become fluent in French over the period of thirteen months.
I felt as though I read this book from a distance. I watched this heartfelt story play out from across the broad and dusty farmlands of Saskatchewan and through the dense Canadian wilderness. Early on, this story casts a spell. 83 year-old Etta sets off on a cross-country walk with the mere goal of seeing the ocean. She leaves behind her husband Otto to bide his time until she returns, if in fact she remembers to return. The novel unfolds the couple's history, binding them through letters, sent and unsent.
This is a lovely telling of the author’s meeting, relationship, and marriage to her husband, Miles, an Army Apache pilot, and the first years following his death as she finally starts to reclaim her own life. Her writing is clear, honest, and to-the-point, but always deeply felt.
John Green's first novel is a treasure. Set in an Alabama boarding school, the story's main character is Miles, a junior from Florida in his first year at Culver Creek. In Florida, Miles did not have any friends and looks to reinvent himself at Culver Creek.
For what seems to be forever, earthlings have looked up towards the stars and only imagined what travel to another planet might be like. Such a possibility comes to life in author Andy Weir's debut novel, "The Martian". NASA has successfully sent two crews to Mars, and America's space program has the world's attention. However, during the subsequent mission of Ares 3, a series of unfortunate events results in a lone astronaut being left behind. Though presumed dead, it is soon discovered that a very alive Mark Watley is stranded on the u
Niko Pappas, the successful owner of Super-Gyros, has decided to open a second restaurant in Galveston, TX. He leaves his two eldest sons in California to run the original store and moves the rest of his large Greek family to Galveston, TX. The transition from California to Texas is anything but easy for this tight-knit family.
Jonathan Carroll’s work is often described as magic realism, but I think Neil Gaiman said it best by stating that reading Carroll is “as if John Updike were to write a Philip K Dick novel.”
Carroll’s book packs in a lot of different stories and details, often mixed together. The very pages of the book are thin; the smoky images at the head of each chapter visible through the following pages.
Dr. Patricia McConnell is an applied animal behaviorist and dog trainer with more than twenty years experience. The Other End of the Leash is a fantastic read for dog owners or those interested in animal-human interaction. Dr. McConnell very practically illustrates the differences between primate and canid behavior and mannerisms, and explains why many things we as humans do can be difficult or impossible for dogs to understand.
Aretha Franklin, Queen of Soul, was born to gifted and well-to-do parents. Her mother was a singer and her father was a well-known preacher who marched alongside Martin Luther King, Jr. during the Civil Rights movement. Life wasn’t a piece of cake. Aretha’s mother left the family when she was young leaving the father as a single parent. Her father showcased her childhood talent by waking her up in the middle of the night to play piano and sing for his party guests.
Wandering Son is a masterfully handled manga about two fifth grade friends, a boy and a girl, who wish they were a girl and a boy, respectively.Shuichi is naturally quiet and shy, and keeps his desire to be a girl private, restricted to only a few very close friends, including Takatsuki, who wants to be a boy.The two struggle through their difficulties together, like when boys at school point out Takatsuki’s budding femininity.The friends encourage eac
Inspired by 17th century Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer's famous painting, Tracy Chevalier creates a beautiful tale about Girl With a Pearl Earring. As a fan of both historical fiction and art, I fell in love with this book. In Chevalier's imagination, 16 year old Griet comes to live with the Vermeer family in Delft, Holland to serve as a maid in their home.
"The Book of Unknown Americans" by Cristina Henriquez tells the touching stories impacting the lives of a group of immigrant families sharing space in a Newark, Delaware apartment building. The immigrants have come together from various countries around the globe such as Mexico, Puerto Rico, Paraguay, Panama, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. Each of them face common and individual challenges related to assimilation into their adopted American homeland. Central to Henriquez's story are teenagers Maribel Rivera and Mayor Toro w
The astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of New York’s Hayden Planetarium, is a familiar figure to those of us addicted to those documentaries about space that pop up on PBS and the History Channel. Tyson is an affable figure on TV, and proves to be the same in print. This book is a collection of articles that he wrote for “Natural History” magazine. They present complex topics in a clear, conversational manner, infused with humor. Thought-provoking and entertaining.
A fascinating introduction to the history and design of tree forms used to explain knowledge in a visual way, this book is filled with historical and modern tree designs. From hand-lettered medieval trees showing the relationship of Biblical characters to modern computer-generated trees of Twitter feeds, there are 200 wonderful examples of all sorts of tree styles. There is something for everyone—square representations of states by area in 1939, the X-Men family tree, or icicle trees used by statisticians.
Diego Rivera was twice the size and age of Frida Kahlo when they married in August of 1929 but they seemed destined to be together. Rivera was a famous Mexican muralist who used the fresco method of painting on wet plaster. Kahlo was known for her self-portraits showing her suffering due to internal injuries resulting from a bus accident and for her depictions and deep love of animals. As a child, she contracted polio. She had always been sickly. Reef has written a book about one of the most interesting artist couples in history.
Jenna Metcalf's mother has been gone for 10 years. Alice Metcalf disappeared after an incident at the New England Elephant Sanctuary, where she worked as a naturalist and expert in elephant behavior. Her daughter, now a precocious thirteen year old, feels abandoned and is passionate to learn what happened to her mother. In "Leaving Time", the most recent novel from Jodi Picoult, Jenna enlists the help of a once celebrated psychic and the heavy drinking detective assigned to her mother's unsolved case ten years ago.
You could say the Quinn Family is dysfunctional… A week before Christmas father Kelley , an innkeeper, finds out his second wife Mitzi has been sleeping with the inn’s hired Santa. Eldest son Patrick, a highly successful hedge fund investor, is being investigated for fraud. Son Kevin, who has been secretly sleeping with the inn’s housekeeper, just found out he is going to be a father. Daughter Ava, who has pinned all her hopes on getting a diamond this year for Christmas, finds out her boyfriend has left to spend the holiday with his mother in New York.
A 15-year-old girl in a red dress flees through the woods pursued by a dark shape. The housewife who sees her and calls the police is later found dead and the girl vanishes. For over 30 years no one knows what happened to Nola.
Janet Leigh was best known for her portrayal of Marion Crane in the 1960 Alfred Hitchcock classic thriller, Psycho and her eleven-year marriage to Tony Curtis. She starred in mostly low-budget films throughout her film career which spanned from 1947-1999. Hollywood film moguls were attracted to her natural beauty. She endured the unwanted attention of Howard Hughes.
Randall Munroe earned a degree in physics at Christopher Newport University (VA) and went on to work on robots at NASA's Langley Research Center in Virginia before quitting to become a cartoonist (xkcd.com: “a webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language”). He employs humorous stick figure sketches to help provide scientific answers to absurd hypotheticals submitted to him through his website.
Drawing Autism showcases the artistic talents of individuals with autism spectrum disorder while giving perspective on how these artists relate to the world around them. Temple Grandin has written the forward which is a perfect introduction and sets the tone for the rest of the book. Author Jill Mullin, a behavior analyst with a clinical background in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), divided the selected works into themes. Her goal was to provide an overview of the autism spectrum while celebrating the individuality of each person. Artists selected for the b
The one year anniversary of Olivia’s mother’s death is drawing near. Her mother’s dying wish was very explicit, her ashes were to be scattered in two specific locations in Huntley, Georgia, a town neither Olivia nor her sister had ever heard of. Looking for a way to escape her increasingly chaotic personal life, Olivia decides now is the perfect time to go Huntley and find out why this place was so special to their mother. What she finds makes her wonder if she ever really knew her mother at all. Huntley is gone…well actually it now sits at the bottom of a man-made lake.
Marie-Laure LeBlanc lives a quiet life with her Father, Daniel LeBlanc, at Number 4 rue Vauborel in Paris, France. Daniel is a locksmith for the Natural Museum of History in Paris before the German occupation of France during WWII. Marie-Laure becomes totally blind by the age of six. Her Father fashions a miniature replica of their neighborhood from wood so that she may memorize and better navigate her surroundings while he is busy working at the museum.