Readers’ Blog

SPRING 2020 Blog with Book Cover images  

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 seasonally. Next posting will be in Later Spring 2020. Send your recommendations to

jadelbergCML@gmail.com
This month’s blog has 18 entries from enthusiastic readers.  Try some of these selections.  Recommend to your friends, neighbors, and fellow readers. We all have so much to share.

Non-Fiction

Fascism, a Warning by Madeline Albright (Non-Fiction)

Former Secretary of State Ms Albright presents a very readable, well researched, and personally experienced history of the slippery descent into fascism beginning with Mussolini, Stalin and Hitler on up to our present partisan nationalism. In every historical example there was a perfect storm of extreme wealth divide, exploitation of the vulnerable by the greedy few, and the resulting seething resentment that paved the way for a ‘savior’ to turn things around. I had several lightbulb moments as I read this book. Has anyone pointed out that Mr. T actually parroted some of the slogans from these dictators in his 2016 campaign? Just sayin’.
Reviewed by Chris Jones

Victoria: Twenty-four Days that Changed Her Life by Lucy Worsley (Biography) 

A carefully researched book that delves into the ‘real’ back story during Victoria’s reign.  A very absorbing read that I found hugely interesting, and full of illuminating details about Victoria and her family and the ‘era’ and how political disputes were solved. I’d read anything by this author.

Reviewed by Judy Danielson

FICTION

The Giver of Stars by Jo Jo Moyes (Historical Fiction)

If you are a Jo Jo Moyes fan this book will not disappoint; if you are new to this author, please give this a try. This historical novel is set in the depression era in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky which is one of the poorest, but most beautiful parts of the country. The main characters set up one of Eleanor Roosevelt’s small libraries in fictional Baileyville in order to bring books to the isolated rural areas. The “packhorse librarian” women would load their saddlebags with all manner of books and ride out to homes in remote areas with a variety of reading material.  A week later they would return to retrieve these books and magazines and leave others. The story centers around the group of women involved with this endeavor, the men in their lives (both good and not-so-good) — adventure, friendship and love. The actual program ran from 1935 to 1943.
Reviewed by Connie Locashio
Augusta

The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates (Fiction), Never Caught: The Washington’s Relentlless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave by Erica Armstrong Dunbar (Non-Fiction), and 2019 DVD Harriet 

During February, Black History Month, I read two books and watched one video revolving around slavery:  The Water Dancer, Never Caught, and new library DVD, Harriet.

The main characters, Hiram, Ona Judge and Harriet Tubman are strong and remain steadfast in their thirst and quest for freedom.  A question that kept running through my mind was…How could anyone think it was okay to own, sell, trade another human being?  While difficult to read and watch at times, it is our history and not to be forgotten.I highly recommend all three.

Reviewed by Dave Petell

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

A super interesting historical fiction account of the battle between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse for control of the design and distribution of the light bulb.     Recreates the mood and cultural climate of the late 1800s with great detail, and a bit of romance thrown in. The author has a section in the back detailing what is true and what he makes up.  The characters and major events are real and documented.   Highly recommend.

Reviewed by Judy Danielson

After the Flood by Kassandra Montag (Adventure/Futurist Fiction) 

After the Flood by Kassandra Montag takes place in the near future when, after years of slowly rising floodwaters, little is left of land but an archipelago of mountaintop communities.  Myra is an expert survivalist; she and her daughter Pearl survive on their boat by fishing and by trading their excess catch to other boats and communities on land for supplies and information.  She is also searching for her older daughter who was taken by her husband when he abandoned the family. 

After the Flood is an action-packed and exciting adventure, sometimes uplifting, though sometimes grim.  Myra and Pearl interact with all kinds of other survivors, good guys and bad guys.  In some ways, it reminds me of the inventive and innovative imagination of such books as Station Eleven and The Road. 

The Chicago Tribune named one of the best books of 2019.  It has also received excellent reviews from Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Review, Library Journal and a starred review from Booklist.

Reviewed by Noel Pelliccia

The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai (Contemporary Fiction)

A novel of the AIDS epidemic based in Chicago. Well-developed characters you grow to care for told in alternating time chapters. It takes a while to get into the swing of the back and forth action but it also pushes the reader along to find what happens next.  Ultimately it is a story about love, community, and expectations; lessons for us all.  What is family? how do you deal with tragedy? what do you do when your convictions and truths are wrong? A well told tale with enough twists to keep you wondering.

Reviewed by Mary Jean Cowing

The Stolen Ones by Owen Laukkanen (Thriller)

This FBI thriller brings together international sex-trafficking, murder, and courageous women.  The non-stop action of a cross-country chase will keep you turning pages. Not for the faint of heart. 

Reviewed by Steve Dodge

Alice’s Tulips by Sandra Dallas (Historical Fiction)

This novel is set during the American Civil War, covering the time between December1862 and May 1865.   Alice is a young newlywed whose husband Charlie joins the Union Army and leaves Alice with his formidable Mother on their Iowa farm.   The entire book is Alice’s letters to her sister about the rigors of farm life at the time, customs of small-town America and especially her love of quilting and the women’s social life surrounding quilting bees.   Each chapter starts with a small paragraph about quilting, but any non-quilter can certainly enjoy the book.   Alice’s letters are lively and anything but dull.    Ordinarily I am not a big fan of this type of writing, but I have always enjoyed the many Sandra Dallas novels that I have read.

Reviewed by Connie Locashio  

The Last Guest House by Megan Miranda (Suspense) 
A twisted murder mystery in a Maine coastal retreat town.
Reviewed by Steve Dodge

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (Fiction)

Wolf Hall is a wonderful historical novel about Thomas Cromwell and how he helped Henry the Eighth get his marriage to Katherine of Aragon annulled and marry Ann Boleyn.  It’s a great (and mostly true) story, told with lots of humor; and although it’s “ancient history”, it has a contemporary feel. The characters are brilliantly portrayed, and Thomas Cromwell turns out to be a likable guy. The book won the Man Booker prize in 2009, and was later made into a BBC television series.

Reviewed by Jane Andrews

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides (Thriller)

Adultery and murder are just the start of this twisted psychological mystery. A shocking read. 
Reviewed by Steve Dodge

AND NEW THIS MONTH…..MOVIE BLOG

by Bev Petell

Have you checked out the large selection of library DVDs on the lower level at the Cary?  Janet has a knack for keeping Wayne up-to-date on the latest releases!

Here’s my review of four 2019 movies that have recently been added to the ever-expanding selection.

DOWNTON ABBEY, the Movie

If you were a fan of this popular PBS series, I think you’ll enjoy the 2-hour movie.  I felt like I was visiting old friends and didn’t want the visit to end.  Without spoiling a thing, I’ll just say…The ROYALS are coming!

FORD V FERRARI

Now, I’m not a race car fan, but I was thoroughly entertained by this true story, set in 1966, about the competition between the two car companies.  Matt Damon and Christian Bale are superb in this high-energy film.  Received numerous nominations.  Well done!

HARRIET

A powerful movie about the amazing Harriet Tubman.  You know her story, the history…the Underground Railroad, but as it unfolds before your eyes, it is often difficult to watch.  It helped to know that Harriet lived to old age.  Another award nominated movie and a must see!

YESTERDAY 

No nominations for this movie, but it was a fun, romantic comedy.  Imagine a world without the Beatles and their songs.  Impossible!  But in this movie, a quirky event erases the FAB FOUR from everyone’s memories…except for one struggling musician, Himash Patel.  Pop the corn, sit back, listen to some favorites (beautifully performed) and just enjoy being mindlessly entertained by a sweet movie.  Oh, and Downton Abbey fans will recognize “Rose”, Lily James, as his love interest.  Downton Abbey…we’ve come full circle!

Bev Petell