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A true story made headlines Nov. 4. A trove of approximately 1,500 works of art confiscated by the Nazis in World War II were seized in a Munich apartment. The value was estimated to be $1.3 billion by artists such as Picasso, Matisse and Chagall. The news goes on to say that determining the rightful owners of the works decades after they were either sold under duress or seized could take years.
In my monthly book club group we open the discussion with just a word and a number — how much we enjoyed the book on a scale of 1-10 and one word that best describes it for us.
“The Husband’s Secret,” by Liane Moriarty has been billed as a great beach read or one you want to curl up with for the whole day beside a cozy fireplace. Since we have no beach in Phoenix, it’s too early for a cozy fire, and even pool-side season is over, what’s one to do?
If you liked last summer’s block buster, “Gone Girl,” by Gillian Flynn, you might like “The Silent Wife,” by A.S.A. Harrison, a debut paperback novel published in June but quickly climbed the best-seller charts. Called one of the summer’s sleeper hits, one reviewer says, “It ensnares the reader on page one and doesn’t let go.” Even if you didn’t read “Gone Girl,” but like psychological suspense based on an unusual relationship, this might be the page-turner you are looking for.
“Ordinary Grace,” by William Kent Krueger, is a touching coming-of-age novel set in the fictional town of New Bremen, “somewhere in the broad valley of the Minnesota River.” It is the summer of 1961, a time of innocence and hope for the country with a new young president. It’s the first year the Twins played in Minnesota, ice-cold root beers were enjoyed at Halderson’s drugstore soda fountain, and Hot Stuff comic books fill the magazine racks. For 13-year old Frank Drum it is a summer that becomes much more than a winning baseball season as his innocence is shattered due to a series of tragic events and deaths, including accidents, suicide and murder.
The adage “truth is stranger than fiction” is proven in “The Lost Wife,” by Alyson Richman. She has succeeded in blending both for an unforgettable reading experience.
I received a press release today on the Brothers in Arms Classic the Desert Vista football team is participating in the fall.
Under Armour, a national sports apparel company, announced a new contest to help recruit “two of the smartest, hardest-working students on the planet.” They have paired this contest with a short video and an application, which can be found at http://ultimateintern.ua.com.
I have read so many good books lately I couldn’t decide which one to review. It was a toss up between “The Obituary Writer,” by Ann Hood and “The Secret Keeper,” by Kate Norton (I don’t know about you but any title that contains the word “secret” draws me like a magnet — maybe it was that early Nancy Drew conditioning).
February is the month we glorify “love” and “The Fault In Our Stars,” by John Green, is a glorious love story. A love story not just between a boy and a girl, but with life itself. You’ll find this book in the Young Adult section, but don’t let that keep you from reading it; its message is universal to all ages because it is about living each day to the fullest, as if your days were limited.
January means resolutions. My guess is that at least one of your resolutions falls under the category of being happier in some area of your life. If so, you might want to take a look at Gretchen Rubin’s new book, “Happier at Home” (2012). Her previous book, “The Happiness Project,” was No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list for months. Although I hadn’t read that one, I bought her next book as the “perfect” gift for someone. Before I wrapped it I skimmed it a little further than in the bookstore. Soon I was reading each page and knew I had to have my own copy. This is a valuable and inspirational reference for any individual, family or home — the kind of book you might not read at one sitting or from beginning to end, but snippets on a daily or weekly basis. With a highlighter.
The holiday boys basketball tournaments have wrapped up, and it’s time for the second half of the power points schedule. Before we move ahead, here is a look at the notable teams, players and moments from the first two months of the season:
The Foothills Ladies Golf Club collected more than 50 Toys for Tots at its annual golf and lunch outing. Forty members participated at the Foothills Golf Club where they play each Tuesday. Members of the Christmas committee pictured here are Connie Brown, Connie Modeer, Vy Armour, Bonnie Spanier and Shelly Meagher.
"The Beautiful Ruins” started off as a little frivolous and fun — a nice break from a serious novel. How wrong could I be.
Edward Rutherford has been writing historical sagas for more than 20 years but I just discovered him this summer with “New York, the Novel (2009).” After a passionate reading, I wanted heartily to recommend but hesitated — would most readers consider it “old news?” However, when Hurricane Sandy recently ravaged the East Coast, I felt compelled to do the review as it certainly wrote another chapter in the history of this amazing American city from 1664 to the year 2009.
As the country prepares to enjoy the 108th Baseball World Series, even those who may not be true baseball fans are often caught up in the spirit of America’s national sport. If you are indeed a die-hard baseball fan, “The Art of Fielding,” by Chad Harbach might be just the book for you. But don’t discount it even if you don’t know first base from a knuckle-ball pitch. Described by one critic as the “greatest baseball novel in a generation,” the sports theme is metaphorically much grander — that of the human condition.
If you were to go into a bookstore to find “Marcelo in the Real World,” by Francisco X. Stork, it would be shelved in the young adult section and while it is an excellent choice for young readers (receiving 15 awards since its publication in 2009), it is also a story that will touch adult hearts and keep them turning pages to see how a 17 year old deals with a moral crisis that deeply affects the adults in his world.
When you see the photo of Ann Patchett on the book jacket of her latest book, “State of Wonder,” it’s hard to believe someone so lovely and feminine could write a book describing some horrific images. I guess that is the power of imagination and skillful writing which she has proven in her previous books, most notably “Bel Canto” (2001 Winner of PEN/Faulkner Award).
Last month I highlighted Jacqueline Winspear’s “Maise Dobbs” series and this month is dedicated to Canadian author Louise Penny and the wonderful world she has created in the fictional setting of Three Pines, a rural Canadian village south of Montreal, just kilometers from the Vermont border.
The wonderful thing about discovering an author you enjoy who writes a series is the anticipation of the next book ... just knowing that as you turn the last page there is another good book on the horizon. And if you discover them after the series has been around a while, you can eagerly go from one book to the next with the characters you have come to love.