Sunday, March 31, 2013

16. The Mountain Between Us

By:  Charles Martin
Rated 4.5 Stars

I enjoyed this book very much in spite of its being classified as Inspirational.  Charles Martin is a competent writer and a first rate story teller. Both of which are rare for Inspirational books.

I had to suspend my disbelief a time or two but hey, this is fiction and  implausible situations are allowed as long as the story is good.  And this is a good story.  It kept me listening with my full attention all the to the end and there was no way I could shut if off until I learned how it came out.

Publisher's Summary

On a stormy winter night, two strangers wait for a flight at the Salt Lake City airport. Ashley Knox is an attractive, successful writer, who is flying East for her much anticipated wedding. Dr. Ben Payne has just wrapped up a medical conference and is also eager to get back East for a slate of surgeries he has scheduled for the following day. When the last outgoing flight is cancelled due to a broken de-icer and a forthcoming storm, Ben finds a charter plane that can take him around the storm and drop him in Denver to catch a connection. And when the pilot says the single engine prop plane can fit one more, if barely, Ben offers the seat to Ashley, knowing that she needs to get back just as urgently. And then the unthinkable happens. The pilot has a heart attack mid-flight, and the plane crashes into the High Uintas Wilderness - one of the largest stretches of harsh and remote land in the United States.
Ben, who has broken ribs and Ashley, who suffers a terrible leg fracture, along with the pilot's dog, are faced with an incredibly harrowing battle to survive. Fortunately, Ben is a medical professional and avid climber. With little hope for rescue, he must nurse Ashley back to health and figure out how they are going to get off the mountain, where the temperature hovers in the teens.
Meanwhile, Ashley soon realizes that the very private Ben has some serious emotional wounds to heal as well. He explains to Ashley that he is separated from his beloved wife, but in a long standing tradition, he faithfully records messages for her on his voice recorder, reflecting on their love affair. As Ashley eavesdrops on Ben's tender words to his estranged wife she comes to fear that when it comes to her own love story, she's just settling. And what's more: she begins to realize that the man she is really attracted to, the man she may love, is Ben.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

23. Leaving Everything Most Loved

By:  Jacqueline Winspeare

Rated:  5 Stars
Audio Book

Winspeare said that this was book was going to change the entire playing field and boy was she ever right.  She changed almost everything over the course of the book.

I have loved every one of these stories even when I got a little annoyed with the character of Maisie for clinging to tightly to her past and not moving on as fast as I thought she ought to.  I am no longer annoyed.  Plus she managed to change everything while leaving all the bare bones of the series firmly in place.  This book just came out and I am already wishing for the next one.

And as for the mystery, I didn't figure it who-done-it until the very end. I absolutely love twisty mysteries and this was one had a grand twist at the end.  This book lets the reader know that regardless of how much we want to see Masie and James wrapped in each others arms Winspeare is a mystery writer and any romance that floats by is strictly secondary and is meant to advance the plot only.

 I grew up watching Perry Mason mystery in the early days of TV and my brother and I competed every week to see which one of us could figure out the Grand Denouement first.  I'll admit I had an advantage over him for a while because whoever casted the shows had a weakness for weak chins and all I had to do was look to see which character had one and I had the killer. 

And I say this in every review I write for the Maisie books but Winspeare is probably better than any other writer of mysteries set in this era.  She does such a good job of setting the atmosphere of time and place that the reader is left as fly on wall as they experience the story in whatever format they have chosen.

And, as a personal note to whoever reads this comment.  I know I am sounding a little gushy but if you have read any of my journal entries in the past you know that I pretty much call them as I see them.  It has gotten me quite a few negative votes on amazon and a few on audible.  But happily I am not running for election to anything so I will continue always to call them as I see them.    

Publisher's Summary

In Leaving Everything Most Loved by New York Times best-selling author Jacqueline Winspear, Maisie Dobbs investigates the murder of Indian immigrants in London.
The year is 1933. Maisie Dobbs is contacted by an Indian gentleman who has come to England in the hopes of finding out who killed his sister two months ago. Scotland Yard failed to make any arrest in the case, and there is reason to believe they failed to conduct a thorough investigation. The case becomes even more challenging when another Indian woman is murdered just hours before a scheduled interview. Meanwhile, unfinished business from a previous case becomes a distraction, as does a new development in Maisie's personal life.
Bringing a crucial chapter in the life and times of Maisie Dobbs to a close, Leaving Everything Most Loved marks a pivotal moment in this outstanding mystery series.

Monday, March 18, 2013

22. The Grizzly King

By:   James Oliver Curwood
Rated:  5 Stars

I recently finished a perfect jewel of a book.  Shaun got it from the library and said I had to read it and when I looked for it I found it free on Kindle.  

This book was written in 1917 and is not in the least dated.  The Romance in the title refers to the hunter and the bear's relationship to the wilderness.  It's about a man hunting for a bear from both points of view.  I had never even considered that Grissly Bear's might have a point of view before but after reading this I even came away with a certain amount of sympathy for them.  Not much, but some.

Anyway it's a little gem of a book, just 140 pages.  And for you kindle owners, free.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

19. Middletown

By:  Gaile Sheehy
Rated 4 Stars
Audio Book

Publisher's Summary

50 people never came home to Middletown, New Jersey after September 11th. Wall Street fathers, young Port Authority police, single working moms, the beloved coach of the championship girls traveling basketball team. Three toddlers in one church pre-school lost their daddies. Dozens of widows, young and beautiful girls in their 20s and 30s, some still nursing newborns, watched their dreams literally go up in smoke in that amphitheater of death across the river.
Gail Sheehy traveled to Middletown shortly after the disaster and began in-depth interviews with many of the bereaved.
Middletown, America was written as the year progressed, following parallel and intertwining stories of selected individuals and their families. A mother who was doubly bereft when she lost her only son as he tried to fill the shoes of her absentee husband; the sole survivor in an office of 67 people who escaped the 88th floor of Tower 2 seconds before the floor was decimated.
Here are the fire-fighters, rescue workers and front-line public health volunteers, now training to be soldiers in this new war.
Of equal importance, however, is the way these very real individuals dealt with this disaster and the trauma that followed. Middletown, America is also a story of recovery and of the ways people finally learn to deal with seemingly insurmountable grief and an incomprehensible physical and financial disaster.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

15. My Stroke of Insight

By:  Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D.
Rated 4.5 Stars

I so wish I could have had this book while my Mother was still alive.  Her brain disease affected the left hemisphere where the author had her stroke and I am seeing my Mother on every page.  I talked to my son about this book this morning about Mother and I know in my heart there is nothing I or anyone could have done to improve her condition but I sure could have understood what she was going through a lot better. I am finding a lot of comfort when the author talks about feeling peaceful detached from the world.  I'm hoping it was that way for my Mother.

Book Description:

On December 10, 1996, Jill Bolte Taylor, a thirty-seven- year-old Harvard-trained brain scientist experienced a massive stroke in the left hemisphere of her brain. As she observed her mind deteriorate to the point that she could not walk, talk, read, write, or recall any of her life-all within four hours-Taylor alternated between the euphoria of the intuitive and kinesthetic right brain, in which she felt a sense of complete well-being and peace, and the logical, sequential left brain, which recognized she was having a stroke and enabled her to seek help before she was completely lost. It would take her eight years to fully recover.

For Taylor, her stroke was a blessing and a revelation. It taught her that by "stepping to the right" of our left brains, we can uncover feelings of well-being that are often sidelined by "brain chatter." Reaching wide audiences through her talk at the Technology, Entertainment, Design (TED) conference and her appearance on Oprah's online Soul Series, Taylor provides a valuable recovery guide for those touched by brain injury and an inspiring testimony that inner peace is accessible to anyone

Friday, March 1, 2013

14. The Romanovs: The Final Chapter

By:  Robert K. Masie
Rated 4 Stars
Audio Book

The first half of this book tells the story of how the remains of the Romanov family was finally discovered after team after team of scientists, amateur archeologists, the KGB and just plain adventurers looking for their 15 minutes of fame spent fortunes and sometimes lifetimes searching for them.

It then goes on to describe the sickening in-fighting between teams of scientists and politicians from any country or region with even the most tenuous claim to have an interest in them indulged fought over the bones.  It was pretty disgusting and I was amazed how people with so much education would stoop so low.  The few scientists who did have integrity were almost buried in the avalanche of mud and had to fight tooth and nail to protect their reputations.  As I said, disgusting.  At the time this book was written the bones of the Romanov family was still laying in a morgue in Moscow while the Government fights over where and how to bury them.  Sad!

The second half of the book was pretty much devoted to Anna Anderson, the Polish peasant woman as she utilmately turned out to be was able to perpetrate such a long running and fairly creditable hoax for so long.  I Her story was very good and I guess it must be pretty easy to convince people who really want to be convinced of almost anything.

Book Description:

In July 1991, nine skeletons were exhumed from a shallow mass grave near Ekaterinburg, Siberia, a few miles from the infamous cellar room where the last tsar and his family had been murdered 73 years before. But were these the bones of the Romanovs? And if these were their remains, where were the bones of the two younger Romanovs supposedly murdered with the rest of the family? Was Anna Anderson, celebrated for more than 60 years in newspapers, books, and film, really Grand Duchess Anastasia? The Romanovs provides the answers, describing in suspenseful detail the dramatic efforts to discover the truth.
Pulitzer Prize winner Robert K. Massie presents a colorful panorama of contemporary characters, illuminating the major scientific dispute between Russian experts and a team of Americans, whose findings, along with those of DNA scientists from Russia, America, and Great Britain, all contributed to solving one of the great mysteries of the 20th century.