Readers’ Blog

Fall 2019 Blog with Book Cover images  
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This month’s blog has 14 entries from enthusiastic readers.  Try some of these selections.  Recommend to your friends, neighbors, and fellow readers. We all have so much to share.


Spying on the South by Tony Horwitz (Non-Fiction)

Tony Horwitz continues his successful writing style of part travelogue, part history, and part re-construction for his second book dealing with race relations in the US.  I appreciated his non-judgmental delivery and use of humor.  This time he followed Fred Olmstead’s travels across the South in the 1850’s before his landscape vision for New York’s Central Park. Horwitz always is in the right place at the right time for interesting things to just happen, but know his extensive preparations paid off with the finding the right interviews and adventures.  My takeaway was, life is more complicated than we thought—who knew?

Reviewed by Mary Jean Cowing

Leaving the Witness: Exiting a Religion and Finding a Life by Amber Scorah (Memoir)

 This is a memoir written in the same vein as Tara Westover’s Educated. Scorah describes her upbringing in the highly regimented Jehovah’s Witness sect and her subsequent travels as a missionary in China. Details about the religious requirements (shrouded in some secrecy as far as I knew) and about how missionary work is conducted clandestinely in China were fascinating. Eventually she found her voice and at great personal cost was able to carve out a different kind of life for herself. Moving and memorable. 

Reviewed by Janet Adelberg

WHEN, The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Daniel Pink (Non-Fiction)

 When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing is all about timing.  Author, Daniel Pink and his colleagues have examined the topic of “when” as it relates to a wide range of the professions that are integral parts of our lives.  I was particularly interested in the studies of timing as it relates to schools and the education profession.  Pink and his associates analyzed over 700 scientific studies to better understand why it is better at some times to make decisions than it is at other times.  They talk about the physiological types of personalities.  Are you an early riser, a lark or are you a late evening owl?  Understanding the circadian patterns of yourself and the persons that serve you will help you make more informed decisions.  For example, you may not want to have surgery in the late afternoon if you know that your doctor is an early riser lark. The author believes that understanding your timing patterns and those of the people you work with will help you make better plans, set better goals and accomplish them more successfully.

Despite the fact that the author and his colleagues cite many scientific studies, their information is presented in an easy to understand manner, in fact there is a hint of humor. 

Reviewed by Jim DiRenzo


The Man with a Load of Mischief, and other Richard Jury Mysteries.

by Martha Grimes (Mystery)

 Recently I was looking for a mystery to read and found one on the Cary’s paperback mystery shelves.  It was Martha Grimes “The Man with a Load of Mischief.”  Turns out it is the first of her Richard Jury mysteries. Although I had read several in the past in no particular order, I enjoyed this one so much I decided to read all 24 in the order she wrote them.  (A 25th – “The Old Success” – will be released in November.) I have read 6 and am about to start number 7, “The Deer Leap.”  Martha Grimes is American, but she writes British mysteries and her titles are the names of English pubs and bars.  Her characters are amusing, her descriptions of life in English villages is very interesting and the mysteries are intriguing.  Martha Grimes first books (she started writing them in 1981) caused comparisons to all the great English women mystery writers.  And reviewers listed her mysteries among the cozy mysteries.  After she had written several books, some reviewers started comparing her to authors like Raymond Chandler saying her details were more graphic.  I call her books a very good read and fun.  I love the main characters.  And if you really get interested, check out the details of when she started writing and how long it took her to be recognized. 

Reviewed by Cynthia Pelliccia

Deception Cove by Owen Laukkanen (Thriller)

 A decorated U.S. Marine with PTSD–her service dog trained by a prisoner–fights off a corrupt deputy sheriff and Nigerian drug runners. The prisoner after discharge comes to rescue the dog and joins the battle.  

Join the action! A great read.

Reviewed by Steve Dodge

The Guest Book by Sarah Blake (Fiction)

 A three-generation family saga that I found quite absorbing. It is long but the plot is carefully crafted and the writing good. Time periods and characters rotate in each chapter. The story raises many questions of class entitlement, racism, personal and war related trauma, family dynamics and cultural change. Well worth spending a few afternoons or evenings in the recliner!  

Reviewed by Judy Danielson 

Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield (Fiction)

 The book commences in the late 1800’s outside of London on Thames River in an ancient inn. An extraordinary event takes place when a wounded stranger with the body of a small child in his arms is rescued from the river.  Hours later the girl stirs, takes a breath and returns to life.  Miracle?  Magic? Can science explain this?   The story takes off from there while various characters try to determine precisely who this non-verbal 4-year-old girl is.  Quoting from the synopsis: “a tapestry of folklore and science, magic and myth…transporting the reader through worlds both real and imagined”. 

Reviewed by Connie Locashio (Readfield)

Redemption by David Baldacci (Fiction/Action)

 The “Memory Man” is back to visit the graves of his murdered wife and daughter when he is approached by a man he put behind bars. The dying man asks to be proven innocent. Another Baldacci bestseller for sure. Read it!

Reviewed by Steve Dodge

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce (Fiction)

 This is a delightful read!  The review in the New York Times says it all: “THE UNLIKELY PILGRIMAGE OF HAROLD FRY is not just a book about lost love. It is about all the wonderful everyday things Harold discovers through the mere process of putting one foot in front of the other.” The good news is there is a sequel THE LOVE SONG OF MISS QUEENIE HENNESSY.  I walked with Harold every step of his journey, and hope you will too.   

Reviewed by Jill Howes 

The Rosie Result by Graeme Simsion (Fiction)

 If you enjoyed The Rosie Project and The Rosie Effect by Australian author Simsion, then you’ll be ready for this last installment in the trilogy. Rosie and the inimitable Don are now raising their son Hudson. Let’s just say the socially inept scientist is given a total run for his money by the challenges of parenting. Laugh out loud and cheer them all on. 

Reviewed by Janet Adelberg

If She Wakes by Michael Koryta (Thriller)

 Tara, a college student in Maine, is the victim of a brutal accident that leaves her fully aware but unable to communicate that someone wants her dead.  An insurance investigator uncovers evidence of a planned murder and a billion-dollar secret. 

Hang on for this lightning fast ride. A must read by one of the best new thriller writers!

Reviewed by Steve Dodge

America’s First Daughter by Stephanie Dray & Laura Kamoie (Historical Fiction)

 An historical fiction novel focusing on the life of Patsy Jefferson, Thomas Jefferson’s daughter. This is very well researched, and as true to life as possible with created dialogue and logical assumptions made. However, the story itself is spell binding and very well written. The authors bring you back to Monticello and Paris, and create the life and times and crises they dealt with. I marveled at their commitment to the cause of independence and felt renewed gratitude to all of them, especially the unsung women.

Reviewed by Judy Danielson

The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessey by Rachel Joyce (Contemporary Fiction)

 This book is a sequel to THE UNLIKELY PILGRIMAGE OF HAROLD FRY by Rachel Joyce which Jill Howes reviewed elsewhere in this blog.    The Pilgrimage followed its hero as he traveled on foot across England to visit his old friend Queenie Hennessey who had written to say good bye from a hospice facility.  Queenie is forced to confront the past and setting pen to paper makes her own journey confronting her long-buried secrets of her modest childhood, her studies at Oxford, the heartbreak that brought her to Kingsbridge and her quiet love of Harold Fry and the friendship with his son. Although this may sound a little like a soap opera, it is well-written and very engaging.

Connie Locashio, Readfield

Still Life by Louise Penny (Mystery) 

 I am reading Still Life by Louise Penny. Still Life is the first of a series of murder mysteries written by Louise Penny. The setting is a town called Three Pines in Quebec, Canada. In this, the first book written introduces us to Inspector Gamache who is called to Three Pines to investigate the murder of an elderly woman who has submitted art work for consideration to an art exhibit. By all accounts this retired teacher was loved by all, but someone murdered her.

The writing is very descriptive and the characters are charming. You feel as if you have known them. It is a very pleasant read.

                                   Reviewed by Lucy DiRenzo