Readers’ Blog

Winter 2020 Blog with Book Cover images  

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This month’s blog has 16 entries from enthusiastic readers.  Try some of these selections.  Recommend to your friends, neighbors, and fellow readers. We all have so much to share.


When You Find My Body by B. Dauphinee (Maine Non-Fiction)

Many of you will remember the news headlines in July 2013 of a 66-year-old woman who disappears while hiking the Appalachian Trail in Maine. Her name was Geraldine Largay and this is her story behind the headlines. 

The book delves into the facts behind the extensive search and rescue mission in an effort to find, rescue and ultimately recover her body. Over a period of a couple of years the search for Geraldine continued and at times searchers were, unknowingly, close to her body. 

I have hiked the area where Geraldine disappeared and know the rugged terrain and landmarks mentioned throughout this book. It’s unfortunate that Geraldine was ill-prepared for this journey. Mistakes were made when she left the AT trail and tried, but failed, to find it again. Her woods and survival skills were extremely limited. 

Through family, friends, and fellow hikers (Geraldine’s trail name was Inchworm), the book paints a picture of a wonderful, kind, adventurous woman who unfortunately underestimated the Maine woods. 

I highly recommended this new library book to hikers and non-hikers. 

Reviewed by Dave Petell 

The Corfu Trilogy by Gerald Durrell , My Family and Other Beasts; Birds, Beasts and Relatives; The Garden of the Gods (Autobiographical)

If you enjoyed and/or loved the “Durrells in Corfu” on PBS or even if you didn’t and have never heard of the Durrells, I think you will find the Corfu Trilogy highly entertaining.  Louisa Durrell and her 4 children were all born in India.  After her husband’s death, Louisa returned to England with her children and tried to live on her widow’s pension.  Finding that extremely difficult the family escaped to Corfu.  And therein lie many tales.  If you only read one of the Trilogy, I would read the first in the series, “My Family and Other Beasts.”  The descriptions of the wildlife and their habitats are especially enjoyable not to mention the family dynamic and their interactions with the local residents. The oldest son Larry grew up to write “The Alexandria Quartet” (written 1957 to 1960 to success and acclaim); Leslie lived his life out of the spotlight; Margo turned her mother’s house in Bournemouth into a boarding home and wrote a book “Whatever Happened to Margo?” about her experiences;  Gerald (Gerry); the lover of all animals and living things; became a naturalist, zookeeper, conservationist, received the OBE and wrote this trilogy.  Janet recently added this book to the Cary Library collection.

Reviewed by Cynthia Pelliccia

The Second Mountain by David Brooks

David Brooks continues his ponderings on what makes a meaningful life with this title by presenting a more personal look at his personal journey.  After a successful established career and then personal downfall, what comes next?  Maybe not profound, unique, or best edited, but I took the time to contemplate his musings and found this experience well worth it.

Reviewed by Mary Jean Cowing


Mistress of the Ritz by Melanie Benjamin (Historical Fiction) 

A new historical fiction book by Melanie Benjamin and it’s a winner!  You may have read her Alice in Wonderland book, Alice I Have Been and others such as The Aviator’s Wife about Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Mrs. Tom Thumb…all interesting reads. Mistress of the Ritz is set in Paris, much of it during World War II and the occupation by the German army.  Along with the city, they take over the Ritz, as well.  A love story is woven throughout between Blanche and Claude Auzello.  She, an American and former flapper…he, the director of the Ritz.  They are the master and mistress of the Ritz. The book is rich on so many levels – the Paris setting, the staff of the Ritz, their guests…some you’ll know…Hemingway, Coco Chanel…every character fascinating and well developed by the author.

Be prepared for the read to include the horrors of the war.  It’s unavoidable in the history of the Paris Ritz and the lives of Blanche and Claude AuzelloI.  didn’t want this book to end.  I highly recommend it to all who are drawn to historical fiction.

Reviewed by Bev Petell

Bloody Sunday by Ben Coes (Thriller)

Kim Jong-Un is about to launch nuclear warheads at the United States. A retired special forces operative is begged by the President to stop the madness before the USA launches a nuclear strike. A thriller of today’s making. 

Reviewed by Steve Dodge

Watch Me Disappear by Janelle Brown (Suspense Fiction)

I really enjoyed this book.  It was very engaging trying to figure out what happened to the main character.  I also like the philosophical questions about reality. Are things what they seem? Or are they just what we believe? 

Reviewed by Eileen Coyne

The Secret Commonwealth by Philip Pullman (Fantasy Fiction) 

The Secret Commonwealth by Philip Pullman is the 2nd book in The Book of Dust trilogy – a continuation of the story told in His Dark Materials (his earlier trilogy).  The book opens with Lyra, 20 years old now, attending “Oxford” in a parallel universe.  The first thing we learn is that she and her daemon Pan are not getting along.  For those of you who haven’t read any of the previous books and never saw the movie “The Golden Compass”, daemons are animals who can speak and who are almost inextricably part of their human’s lives.  The relationship between Lyra and Pan has always been a key part of the story and it continues in this book.  Lyra and Pan immediately find themselves in danger in a world that looks a lot like ours.  Their exciting adventures unfold as a sort of heroic quest involving philosophical and ethical dilemmas – which also look a lot like dilemmas we are struggling with in the “real” world.  Don’t let that keep you from reading the book.  The plot and the characters are terrific, including a wonderful episode with the “gyptians” whom some of us remember from the first trilogy.

Reviewed by Jane Andrews

The Winemaker’s Wife by Kristen Harmel (Historical Fiction) 

The Winemaker’s Wife by Kristen Harmel takes place in the Champagne region of France. The book starts with the development of characters and suggests that the relationships could change and develop into illicit triangles.  The author follows the lives of three women, from the initial days of WWII to the present day. One of those women is of Jewish heritage and the author brings into the story the fears related to the Germans treatment of the Jews.  As the Germans conquer parts of France, the story of La Resistance becomes the core of the plot. The owner of the winery struggles with his part for the resistance and who he can trust. That plot ends with strange twists that make for great book club discussions. 

Reviewed by Jim DiRenzo 

Under Occupation by Alan Furst (Historical Fiction/Espionage)

Under Occupation is a classic Alan Furst novel about World War II Europe.   A writer of detective stories finds himself more and more involved in the resistance movement in occupied Paris.  As always, the complicated plot is created from meticulously detailed and apparently accurate factual research.  The characters and the atmosphere are compelling and there is very little gruesome violence (getting this part right is hard when the story involves Nazis).  I have read all of Furst’s novels, and although the last two were disappointing, with this one he seems to be back on track.

Reviewed by Jane Andrews

Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson (Contemporary Fiction) 

A gem of a book that is short and easy to read and conveys a glimpse
of the African American experience in America from a highly regarded
black author. This book is well written and tightly phrased – no
wasted words. Highly recommended. 

Reviewed by Judy Danielson

Carnegie’s Maid by Marie Benedict (Historical Fiction)

Historical fiction fans will love Marie Benedict’s book, Carnegie’s Maid. Through the main character, Clara Kelley an Irish immigrant and Mrs. Carnegie’s personal maid we discover the behind-the-scene of the wealthy Carnegie family. Marie Benedict has done her research and also draws on her own family’s history in presenting an intriguing novel. You won’t want to put it down!

My next book will be The Other Einstein, also by Benedict, about Einstein’s first wife who was lost in his shadow. 

Reviewed by Bev Petell  

The Huntress by Kate Quinn (Historical Fiction)

A World War II Russian female pilot crosses paths with a Nazi murderess. A team of Nazi hunters tracks the murderess across the ocean. A spell-binding work of historical fiction by the author of The Alice Network.  

Reviewed by Steve Dodge 

The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore (Historical Fiction) 

Novelist and screenwriter Moore describes the intense competition between Edison, Westinghouse, and the fascinating Tesla in the later part of the nineteenth century. Who would ultimately get credit for turning night into day? Set in the dim and gloomy gas lit days of New York City in the 1880s, at a time when the possibility of electric lights seemed dangerous but so promising. Great story-telling, and while fiction, based on a great deal of research. A cast of fascinating characters, a love story, a legal thriller, not to mention the intense scientific/financial competition made for a really satisfying read. 

Reviewed by Jane Adelberg

The Tender Land by William Kent Krueger (Fiction)

Set on the banks of Minnesota’s Gilead River at the Lincoln Indian Retraining School.  Two white brothers are housed with native kids. Escaping the abuse, the brothers flee with a mute Sioux and a six-year-old girl. This is their search for home down the Mississippi by canoe pursued by law authorities. Four kids form a family and survive misery to be together.  A Must Read. 

Reviewed by Steve Dodge

All Together in One Place by Jane Kirkpatrick (Historical Fiction) 

The book is based on an 1852 Oregon Trail incident which speaks to the strength of every woman with a story celebrating hope amidst tragedy.     Mazy Bacon is a bride of 2 years who is happily living in Wisconsin when her husband decides to sell their homestead and head west…this without asking her opinion. As they move along the trail, she and 11 other women are forced to face life with the loss of others to sickness and respond by moving forward into an uncertain destiny. This book is part of Kirkpatrick’s “Courage and Kinship series” which some may find to be too much, but somehow I seem to enjoy the Kirkpatrick’s books that I have read. Published in 2000. 

Reviewed by Connie Locashio 

The Lost Man by Jane Harper (Fiction)

A slow-burning mystery. The death of a brother at an ancient grave in the Australian outback pits man against nature. This twisty drama makes all under suspicion.  Another great one from the author of The Dry

Recommended by Steve Dodge