Readers’ Blog

 June 2017 Blog  (includes front cover pictures)

 We want to hear from you. Please send a blurb about something you’ve read and want to share with CML.  Postings will be published monthly except over the summer. Next posting will be in September 2017. This month’s blog has 12 entries from enthusiastic readers. Send your recommendations to
Portraits of Courage by George W. Bush (Paintings/Portraits of Veterans)
A salute from President Bush to honor the men and women in uniform he sent to war.  Paintings and Profiles by our former president.  Shalom.  An extremely moving book.
Reviewed by Steve Dodge

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi (medicine/health)

Kalanithi was a neurosurgeon who soaked his beautiful mind in medicine and the humanities both; a father, physician, and scientist whose gene therapy research won high awards. He cared deeply about his patients and taught his hands to make their lives better. His training is about to end and he is looking forward to a life-affirming career.

What happens when he is diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer?
He struggles to understand what gives life meaning. He writes this book. Bill Gates calls it “the best nonfiction story I’ve read in a long time.”
Reviewed by Betsy Bowen
The Greater Journey, Americans in Paris by David McCullough (History)
David McCullough’s (not new) book “The Greater Journey, Americans in Paris” is a very satisfying recount of just that, between the years of 1830 and 1900.  Many of the players you know: James Fenimore Cooper, Samuel Morse, Louis Moreau Gottschalk..but you needn’t know all of them.  McCullough makes this history come alive. From the medical students to the artists and authors, it is well done.  AND, you learn the history of Paris in the bargain.
Reviewed by Pam Chenea

Saving Capitalism by Robert Reich  (Economics)

Robert Reich reminds us that the real issue is NOT free market versus big government, but the increasing control of the “free market” rules by big corporations, Wall Street and the very rich.  Some of this may be familiar, but, did you know that drug companies pay generic drug makers to delay making generic versions?  “Pay for delay” is a common practice here, but illegal in Europe.  This is a fact-filled and reasoned analysis, and even offers  a solution.

Reviewed by Jane Andrews

Option B – Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy (Non-fiction)

By Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant

A mixture of personal narrative and psychological research, this book is a fascinating collaboration by Sheryl Sandberg, who suddenly lost her husband after only 11 years of marriage, and Adam Grant, a psychologist who helped her to regain her strength and rediscover joy after her loss. Option B offers suggestions about how to deal with not just one’s own grief, but how to respond to others through the grieving process. They assert that resilience can be taught and developed, and offer specific strategies to create resilient children, families and even workplaces. I appreciated the many personal stories, as well as the references to psychological and sociological research.  I wish this book had been available to me years ago! I would particularly recommend it to parents of younger children, as well as anyone who has experienced loss or survived trauma, works with trauma survivors, or generally works with other people. Actually I would recommend this to everyone!

Reviewed by Sue Spalding

Mozart’s Starling by Lyanda Lynn Haupt (Ornithology/Music)

This is a beautifully written book that speaks to interests beyond Science and, particularly, Ornithology. Readers of History, Spirituality, Music, and Viennese Culture will enthusiastically recommend it to others. The author relates her interest in the composer’s three year relationship with a pet starling, which, readers will discover, is an amazingly intelligent and responsive bird. In order to fill out her investigation, the author decided to raise a starling of her own. Her experience is not only entertaining, but also eminently revealing about the possibilities of a connection with these extraordinary creatures that both she and Mozart were fortunate to have had. When the author ventures into the realm of conjecture, always a part of an inquiry into the mental capabilities of an animal, she does so with reserve and good taste.
Reviewed by Lee Behrendt

One Perfect Lie by Lisa Scottoline (Suspense)
Domestic terrorists, baseball and murder add up to a great combo. Don’r miss this twisted mystery.
Reviewed by Steve Dodge
The Whole Town’s Talking by Fannie Flagg (Contemporary Fiction)

Here is another captivating novel by the author of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe.  Many of us have given some thought to the mysteries of life. In this time capsule of a book the author shares her thoughts on death and the “Great Beyond”. This story is loaded with characters that you can relate to. She also writes about small town life and the growth and death of that town. Reading the chapter “Macky is Worried” gives you pause to contemplate the truth of his words.

Reviewed by  Paula Norton
The Fix  by David  Baldacci  (Contemporary Fiction)
The “Memory Man” and friends return in this FBI manhunt. Is a witnessed murder a matter of national security?  A good read.
Reviewed by Steve Dodge
Earthly Remains by Donna Leon (Mystery)
Commisario Brunettti still has it!  Burned out and needing a break, he heads to an island for some time to refuel and replenish his spirit.The opening chapter is a gem.  Need I say a dead body turns up on the island?  Earthly Remains is the 26 in this series and I’m already longing for the next.
Reviewed by Janet Adelberg

The Girl Who Would Be Russian by Willis Johnson (Story Collection) 

This collection of short stories is set in the Russian community in Richmond ME in the early 1950’s, its pro-Czarist population lured by Count Maximovich, the land developer, to a place he promised would be “just like Russia” ex the Communist Revolution. The writing is perfect — controlled, compassionate, humorous and respectful at once. Johnson’s realism echos Chekhov’s. The details — Russian accents, customs, dress, humor — are so closely observed that feel you’re watching them: the fading ballerina Valentinova; Father Vladimir, priest of the Holy Virgin of Kazan, suspected of being a spy; Father Alexy, who lives in fear that his parishioners will find out that his mother was a Polish Catholic.
A real Maine fiction find!
Reviewed by Betsy Bowen

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult (Contemporary Fiction)

A very compelling, contemporary story about a woman falsely accused in a medical incident.   Themes revolving around race, legal issues, white supremacy,  honesty and personal integrity all play a central part.   The biggest thing I took away is a fuller understanding of white privilege, and how I’ve always taken for granted my privilege with little awareness of how that  increased my odds of success in our society.
Reviewed by Judy Danielson
Golden Prey by John Sandford (Action)
Take a wild ride with Lucas Davenport on his first big case as a U.S. Marshal.  Hang on!
Reviewed by Steve Dodge