Friday, December 11, 2015

Our esteemed guest reviewer, Shirley Ayers, sent in this review of David David Baldacci's 
Zero Day (#1), which was published in 2011. 

"Chief Warrant Officer John Puller is both a combat veteran and a military investigator in the U.S. Army’s Criminal Investigative Division.

"When Army Colonel Reynolds and his entire family are lined up and brutally killed in their home in Drake, West Virginia, Puller is sent to investigate.  He teams up with Drake Police Sgt. Samantha Cole to solve the murders.

"Puller is always prepared with all the right equipment from either his car’s trunk or his rucksack.  Sometimes he and he equipment seem to be testing our powers of imagination, but this is fiction, folks, so anything is possible."

Thank you, Shirley! 

Monday, November 30, 2015

Online Book Club: All the Light We Cannot See

Current Book: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Discussion questions:
  • Discuss how the radio plays a major part in the story and the time period.
  • The narration moves back and forth both in time and between different characters. How did this affect your reading experience?
  • Whose story did you enjoy the most? Was there any character you wanted more insight into?
  • When Werner and Jutta first hear the Frenchman on the radio, he says “Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever." How do you think this phrase relates to the overall message of the story? The title?
  • What did you learn or realize about blindness through Marie-Laure’s perspective? Do you think her being blind gave her any advantages?
  • Marie-Laure suggests the open-endedness of the end of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea is intentional and meant to make us wonder. Are there any unanswered questions from this story that you think are meant to make us wonder?
  • What do you think of the author’s decision to flash forward at the end of the book? Did anything surprise you?
  • Discuss the themes of good versus evil throughout the story. What do you think are the  lessons that these characters and their stories teach us?


Saturday, October 31, 2015

Current Book: Without You, There Is No Us: My Time with the Sons of North Korea's Elite by Suki Kim

Author Suki Kim shows us a rare glimpse of what it is like inside North Korea, and that in itself is a reason to read this book. She works as a professor who teaches English in one of North Korea's "elite" universities, though it is a science and technology university without the Internet. While there, she takes notes about the lack of technology, the lack of honesty, the lack of freedom, and possibly even the lack of friendship available to the people in that country. Her descriptions paint a picture of the emotions she felt, her frustration at the lack of freedom, her anger, and even how she developed an affection for her students. She shows how depressing and sometimes creepy the Kim Jong-il worship is, and she brings out the question: is there hope for North Korea to join the rest of the world? In all, Suki wrote a book that was needed and wrote it well, placing the reader in that world to try to humanize the country.

Discussion questions:
1. Did your impression of North Korea change after you read the book? How?
2. Were there any observations of Suki's that you found striking?
3. In Chapter 20, Suki describes the college's "buddy system" and how the alliances can shift. What does that suggest about the nature of relationships in North Korea? Is true friendship possible?
4. Why do you think North Korea allows a missionary-run school?
5. Suki is uneasy about how easily the boys lie, but eventually becomes sympathetic toward them. Do you feel sympathy? Why or why not?
6. After the book, are you hopeful for North Korea's future?


Next Book:All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Friday, October 23, 2015

New Librarian of Congress needs to embrace digital world

By Cynthia Becker

President Obama is in charge of appointing the next Librarian of Congress. James H. Billington, who had served as Librarian of Congress for the past 28 years, resigned his position on September 30.
Who the president picks is important because this position has the power over copyright policy and to declare exemptions to copyright with the use of media and digital devices.

It is important that the next librarian be in touch with the changing needs of digital copyright so they can declare fair exemptions. And in general this position could provide a broader leadership to libraries around the country. He or she could finally help the Library of Congress to participate in the Digital Public Library of American and make even more of its archives available digitally. It also could march forward for the digital revolution and be leaders in preserving materials and advocating for libraries on other information trends, such as open access to information.
Libraries are in a new world, but still can be leaders in that world. The next Librarian of Congress not only needs to embrace that role but also should be looking forward to shaping libraries' roles in the digital world.

For more information:

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Guest Review: Winter of the World by Ken Follett

Winter of the World by Ken Follett

by Shirley Ayres

Book 2 of the Century Trilogy, Winter of the World is the continuation of the five families and their daily lives in the different parts of the world.  The five main families are still coping with Europe and Russia after World War I, but in this book, their children are in their late teens and early twenties. It is the second generation that has to deal with the historical politics before, during and after World War II. (Time periods: 1933-1949.)

The von Ulrich family -- non-Nazis but who have to deal with the horrors of the Nazis -- stand their ground during the worst of times. The Russian Peshkov family undergo many changes in government, first under the tsar and finally under Stalin. The English and American families are caught up in the horrible battles of World War II.

As usual, Follett’s research is remarkable. The daily lives under the thumbs of tyrants are hard to deal with but real Germans and Russians lived exactly like his characters.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Guest Review: Fall of Giants

Fall of Giants by Ken Follett

by Shirley Ayres

Covering a period between June 22, 1911, and January 1924, this first book of Follett’s Century Trilogy follows the history of five families. When the book begins, it is the 13th birthday of Billy Williams of Wales (nick-named Billy Twice by the miners) who enters the coal mines for the first time since leaving school the day before. His employment in the mines is expected, and his income needed by his family.

The first book of the trilogy follows the history of five families before, during and immediately following World War I. The families are: American Gus Dewar, Russian brothers Lev and Grigori Peshkov, German Walter von Ulrich, Welsh siblings Billy and Ethel Williams, and English mine owners brother and sister Earl Fitz and Lady Maud Fitzherbert. All these characters interact despite their geographic and economic differences. Political actions show the lead up to and the actual fighting of World War I.

I love the way Follett writes. His carefully accurate research is the envy of any historian, using real people and their actual words during one of the twentieth century's most bloody times in Europe. I look forward to the next two books of Follett’s trilogy.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Online Book Club: Ocean at the End of the Lane

Current Book: Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

"Ocean at the End of the Lane" was told as a simple fairy tale, but the story carries depth, and the details pull the reader right into the story. It starts with a middle-aged man returning to his childhood home to attend a funeral. His childhood home is gone, but he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where he remembers when he met a remarkable girl and her mother and grandmother. The boyhood story starts when a man committed suicide in a stolen car near the girl's farm, and that unleashes a story full of scariness, magic, and comfort that is hardly understood by the boy at the time. Gaiman's tale weaves the themes of childhood vs. adult memories and perceptions in a modern fairy tale that captures how magical childhood can be and what it is like to feel helpless as a child when terrifying and unexplainable things start to happen.

Feel free to add your thoughts to the comments. Some discussion questions to get you started:
  1. The story discusses the memories of childhood and adulthood. In what ways do children perceive things differently an adults? Do you think there are situations in which a child's perspective can be more "truthful" than an adult's?
  2. One of the many motivators for the characters in this story is loneliness. How do adults and children respond to loneliness in different ways? In the same ways?
  3. The narrator tells us that later in life, his father admitted that he had never actually liked burnt toast, but ate it to avoid waste, and that his father's confession made the narrator's entire childhood feel like a lie: "it was as if one of the pillars of belief that my world had been built upon had crumbled into dry sand." What other "pillars of belief" from childhood does he discover to be false? How do these discoveries affect him? Are there any beliefs from your own childhood that you discovered to be false? 
  4. Were the fantastic moments real or just how the boy saw the world at the time?


Next Book:Without You, There Is No Us: My Time with the Sons of North Korea's Elite by Suki Kim


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Guest Review: World Without End by Ken Follett

World Without End by Ken Follett

by Shirley Ayres

We are back in Kingsbridge, England, 200 years after the ending of "The Pillars of the Earth." Naturally, some of these 14th-century folks are ancestors of the people from the 12th century. Kingsbridge is a small city controlled by the monks at the priory. Politics, greed and every deadly sin known to past and present humans are suffered and/or enjoyed by the characters.

Tom Builder, the carpenter who designed and built the 12th-century cathedral has direct descendants in the 14th century. The main character is a good, intelligent architect and builder, Merthin. However, his brother Ralph Fitzgerald is a bully from the time he was a child and becomes a rapist and murderer while serving as a knight to the King.

Merthin and his girlfriend Caris are the pillars of the community, but, as adults and lovers, they are both plagued by misfortune and bad political decisions. The whole of England is nearly wiped out by plague.  Kingsbridge is no exception, and Caris, now a nun, has learned how to treat the victims. She and Merthin and his family are not stricken by the illness. Spanning 34 years (from December 1327 to November 1361), the characters are followed from childhood to adulthood and show how some people rise above their circumstances and become leaders, while others become victims.

Very good book. Another long one with more than 1,000 pages and the same teeny, weeny font. But so intriguing.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Guest Reviews: 12th of Never and 14th Deadly Sin by James Patterson

[Guest Reviews by Shirley Ayres]


12th of Never

(Women’s Murder Club Cases)

by James Patterson

Sgt. Lindsay Boxer’s baby girl arrives on the scene in a very unexpected way. After about one week of maternity leave, Lindsay is called back to work on a murder involving a San Francisco 49er football player.

An English professor shows up at the police department and tells Lindsay’s partner, Rich Conklin, about his dreams of seeing murders. Unfortunately, the dreams start coming true. How can this happen? Is he really predicting the future? Does he need to be watched to see if he is the killer?

14th Deadly Sin

(Women’s Murder Club Cases)

by James Patterson

Medical Examiner Dr. Claire Washburn and the members of the Women’s Murder Club are celebrating Claire’s birthday when Sgt. Lindsay Boxer is called away from the party to investigate a murder. Claire reminds Lindsay that she has been called away from the party every year for the past few years. Now, even Lindsay’s husband, Joe Molinari, is caught up in the Claire’s birthday murders. Are they connected? Has the same person committed these murders on this specific date? What reason can it be?

At the same time, robberies and murders are taking place all over the city. Video footage and eyewitness accounts show the criminals dressed in SFPD Windbreakers and wearing masks. Are they really cops?

Attorney Yuki Castellano Brady, no longer working as an ADA has been hired by the Defense League, giving free legal representation to the poor. Her first case is a 15-year-old boy, wrongfully jailed and then murdered in police custody. Yuki finds herself up against her former boss and the entire San Francisco Police Department. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Check it out: The storybook project

NPR is starting The Storybook Project where they ask famous parents to name five favorite storybooks. It is just getting started, but it is a great way to discover new titles. Many of the books are classics, but there already are a few I hadn't heard of before. They will be posting new entries a few times per week, and there is a space for you to contribute ideas as well.

Check it out:

"No matter what kind of day we've all had, this books is like a giant emotional Band-Aid." -- Adam and Naomi Scott, on "All the World"

Monday, August 31, 2015

Online Book Club: Yes Please

August Book: Yes Please by Amy Poehler

I enjoyed learning more about Poehler's life in a book filled with humor and little life tidbits. She also shared her life openly, including her mistakes, which was refreshing. It was titled Yes Please because in improv it's important to say yes to your partner, and she tries to say yes to life. Something that I try to live by. Please share your thoughts! Here are some questions to get you started:

  1. Anything you wished Poehler would have talked more about?  Less about? 
  2. What was your favorite quote?
  3. What did you think about Poehler prior to reading it? Now you have read more about this person, has your opinion changed?
  4. Were there any parts of the book that did or did not ring true? Which?

September Book: Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Monday, August 24, 2015

[Guest Reviews by Shirley Ayres]


10th Anniversary

(Women’s Murder Club Cases)

by James Patterson

San Francisco Police Detective Lindsay Boxer and her longtime boyfriend, Joe, finally get married.  Very soon after the wedding, Lindsay is called upon to investigate the injuries of a 15-year-old girl who has just given birth but cannot remember a thing.

The second case Lindsay investigates is about the murder of a well-known actor by his doctor wife.  Yuki is called upon to prosecute the doctor. Twists and turns come up in both cases and all four members of the Women’s Murder Club are involved in both cases.

11th Hour

(Women’s Murder Club Cases)

by James Patterson

Someone is killing drug dealers and a cop, who just happens to be a dear friend of Sgt. Lindsay Boxer, is suspected.

At the same time the back yard of a world famous movie star is yielding the heads of murder victims.  Did the movie star commit the crimes or is someone else committing the gruesome murders?

All during the investigations, Crime Reporter Jason Blayney is making life miserable for the SFPD by reporting actual cases sprinkled with lies and false accusations. He makes sure that Lindsay is the “star” of his columns about the ineffectiveness of the police department.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

"Difficult" fiction still important

[By Cynthia Becker]

The Nation has a great article on the virtues of difficult fiction:

It made several great points. Here are a few:

1. ... Great writers have a way of solidifying “the vague ideas that have been tumbling in the misty depths of our minds.”

While it's true that fiction books are not necessarily full of "facts" like nonfiction, they still have a lot to offer the world. Novels can be essentially limitless in their ideas, and they can be great observations of human behavior. They can point out new ideas and ways at looking at the world and can help you improve your own life, making you consider your outlooks on life.

2. Online reading invites quick glances; Mikics prefers the “silent, fascinated absorption” that comes with careful reading of a worthy book.

Not that online reading and social media don't have their place, but they are often about headlines. They are quick jabs that ask "can you believe this?" People often quickly click through them and move on. They don't become absorbed in the reading materials they same way they can with a book. But thinking through reading is also important for stretching the mind. And not having the point of a story come too early also teaches patience. We don't always know the point of a story (or life) right away, but we continue on to see what happens.

3. Careful reading is difficult because it demands continuous learning. We have to work to learn new methods of reading in response to new methods of writing.

Authors who do not write in a formulaic way demand that we keep learning -- not only with the ideas discussed, but also with the actual sentence structure and vocabulary chosen. With this kind of reading, we must constantly evaluate it. And in turn, this helps us evaluate new ideas in general. Because of that learning, it is important that difficult literature still is written so that we can continue to experience it.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

5th Horseman and 6th Target by James Patterson

[Guest Reviews by Shirley Ayres]


5th Horseman

(Women’s Murder Club Cases)

by James Patterson

Healthy patients in San Francisco’s Municipal Hospital, with minor ailments, are dying, one by one during the night, and are found the next morning with buttons on their eyelids. The victims' relatives sue, but the hospital is determined to shield its reputation at all costs, and an explosive court battle takes place.

At the same time, young women are being murdered, dressed in expensive designer clothing and posed in luxury cars. The two different cases has Lt. Lindsay Boxer working overtime.

Another good murder mystery. Very fast-paced and exciting. Good character development and interesting plots.

6th Target

(Women’s Murder Club Cases)

by James Patterson

 Lindsay Boxer is faced with two murder cases. The first is a shooting of five people on a ferry just as it docks. Four people are dead, and one is seriously wounded. The killer runs away and a massive search ensues.

The second case is the kidnapping of a little girl and her nanny. The kidnapping turns into murder but which of the victims is killed. The child? The nanny? Both?

Another good police drama. I really love the Women’s Murder Club series.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Guest Review: 8th Confession by James Patterson

[Guest Review by Shirley Ayres]


8th Confession

(Women’s Murder Club Cases)

by James Patterson

When San Francisco’s elite citizens start dying and Medical Examiner Claire Washburn can find no reason for their deaths, Sgt. Lindsay Boxer is called in to investigate.

Meanwhile, a homeless man is brutally beaten and shot to death on the street. Reporter Cindy Thomas takes the case personally when it is revealed that the victim is known as "Bagman Jesus." Cindy investigates and Lindsay and partner Rich are called in to help, but on their own time.

Again, the Women’s Murder Club is faced with two crimes to solve. This is a good series, and the books keep the reader interested for hours on end.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Guest Review: 7th Heaven by James Patterson

[Guest Review by Shirley Ayres]


7th Heaven


(Women’s Murder Club Cases)

by James Patterson

When the governor’s son, Michael Campion disappears, foul play is suspected. His confessed killer is arrested and brought to trial. For ADA Yuki Castellano, member of the Women’s Murder Club, it turns out to be one of the biggest trials of her life.
At the same time, teenage rich boys are setting mansions on fire and killing the occupants. Sgt. Lindsay Boxer and her partner, Inspector Rich Conklin, search for clues but keep getting nowhere fast.
Yuki becomes a victim of a stalker, and ME Claire Washburn is very pregnant as the two members of the Women’s Murder Club appear in several chapters. Boyfriend Joe and partner Rich leave Lindsay breathless as she ponders her future with each man.
Lots of action. This book, like the others in the series, does not disappoint.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Online Book Club!

Book for July: Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

Please share your thoughts about the book in the comment section!

Questions to get you started:

  • Did this change your understanding of slavery?
  • What did you think of the two narrators: Handful and Sarah? What did you most admire about each?
  • How did each of their mothers form Handful and Sarah?
  • Both of them had a “baptism” moment:  Handful in the copper tub and Sarah when she let go of the sea rope at the shore. What did they mean?
  • Handful says to Sara: “My body might be a slave, but not my mind. For you, it’s the other way around.” Do you think that’s true? How did they both find freedom?
  • Which of the male characters did you find most compelling?
  • How is this story relevant today?

    Book for August: Yes Please by Amy Poehler

    Look forward to hearing your thoughts in August!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Patrons want ebooks and print collections

Right now, libraries are a balancing act. Even as more and more people read ebooks, the print collection at libraries is still important. Readers want both, as mentioned in a Washington Post article.

In addition to balancing those needs, the library needs to consider its other service as a Third Place, as opposed to Home (first) and Work (second). A Third Place is defined as somewhere that is free, accessible and can be a "home away from home."

From the article: "More people come into libraries to meet, work and study today than just to borrow." This is very true. At the Bradley Beach library, many people come in to read, meet a tutor, attend a program, use a computer, or to study on their own laptops.

Collections and space are all important needs, and the library needs to balance all needs. And I would argue, as time marches on and information becomes more digital, the importance as a library as a meeting, work, or gathering space will become even more predominant and space devoted to book collections will turn into more meeting space. But in the meantime, Bradley Beach will continue to provide popular print collections and e-collections through elibraryNJ and Hoopla.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Online Book Club!

Don't have time to go to a book club but would still like to discuss books? Then join a virtual book club! It's low commitment. We will post a book for the month. Around the last day of the month, we will post a discussion post. Then just add your thoughts about the book in the comments at any time.

Book for July: Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

Questions to consider while reading:

  • Did this change your understanding of slavery?
  • What did you think of the two narrators: Handful and Sarah? What did you most admire about each?
  • How did each of their mothers form Handful and Sarah?
  • Both of them had a “baptism” moment:  Handful in the copper tub and Sarah when she let go of the sea rope at the shore. What did they mean?
  • Handful says to Sara: “My body might be a slave, but not my mind. For you, it’s the other way around.” Do you think that’s true? How did they both find freedom?
  • Which of the male characters did you find most compelling?
  • How is this story relevant today?

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Guest Review of "4th of July" by James Patterson

[Guest Review by Shirley Ayres]


4th of July 


(Women’s Murder Club Cases)

by James Patterson

After a high-speed car chase, San Francisco Police Lt. Lindsay Boxer and her former partner, Warren Jacobi, are shot. Lindsay manages to shoot the driver and passenger in self-defense. The driver is dead, and her brother is paralyzed for life. Their family sues Boxer for the damage to their teen children. 

While awaiting trial, Boxer stays at her sister’s house. She soon joins up with the local police chief to help solve a few unsolved murders. The Women’s Murder Club members join Lindsay at her country home and help to figure out the motives of the murders.    

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Guest Review of "2nd Chance" by James Patterson

[Guest Review by Shirley Ayres]

2nd Chance

Lindsay Boxer – Detective
(Women’s Murder Club Cases)
by James Patterson

 Another serial killer is loose in San Francisco starting his spree by shooting up a neighborhood church and killing an eleven year old girl.  Was it an incidental killing or was little Tasha the true target?  Clues and more killings make the motive clear to Police Lt. Lindsay Boxer, but how can she stop the murders from piling up?  The Women’s Murder Club members help out to solve this crime, and just in time.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Guest Review of "1st to Die" by James Patterson

[Guest Review by Shirley Ayres]

1st to Die

Lindsay Boxer – Detective
(Women’s Murder Club Cases)

by James Patterson

 Four friends get together to help solve murders.  Founding members, Lindsay Boxer, Homicide Detective with the San Francisco Police Department and Medical Examiner Claire Washburn reach out to Assistant District Attorney Jill Bernhardt and Cindy Thomas, crime desk report on the San Francisco Chronicle, to form the Women’s Murder Club.
          A serial killer has been murdering newly wed brides and their grooms.  It is now up to the Women’s Murder Club to find the connection and ultimately find the murderer.  Their discoveries solve the crimes but at what cost. 
          Short chapters.  Easy reading.  Good characters.  The book kept me up all night until the early hours because I couldn’t put it down.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Narrow Road to the Deep North

Among haiku fans, Basho's Narrow Road to the Deep North is a deeply beloved classic. Although it was written in the 17th century, the poem tale of his journey is remarkably vibrant, heartfelt and funny. 

So, I was very intrigued to see a modern book with that title. 

It is a remarkable book.  Read it. Really. 

I thought the cover was very beautiful. I was surprised to find that there were three other covers that were equally lovely. Here they are: 

Food and Death

This week I read two exceptional books: Eat by Nigel Slater and Being Mortal by Atul Gawande. Although they seem to be at opposite ends of the spectrum, both are provocative, comforting,  and beautifully written.

Being Mortal focuses on making the end of life part and parcel of your entire life. By facing hard issues and decisions before major illness strikes we -- and our families -- can make decisions about what we want to do. I especially appreciate that Dr. Gawande addressed the perspectives of doctors and nurses, along with patients and families.

When I finished the book, I thought, "Gee, this guy is really a genius. He should get one of those MacArthur grants." He has.

For more information on this book and the good doctor, go to

Eat is a beautiful cookbook. Cleverly split into sections like In the hand (sandwich) Little stews and Under a crust. At the beginning of each section, he describes the things he makes most frequently (for example, a roasted zucchinin and feta sandwich) followed by recipes. His recipes are simple, clear and utterly charming.

I had never heard of Nigel Slater, before but I understand he is one of the most popular chefs in England (although he insists he's a cook, not a chef). From this book, I know he is clever, practical and fun.

Here's one of his recipes:
Poor Man's Potatoes
For 2. Frugal, rich, nourishing

Wipe 1 pound of new potatoes and halve them. Heat a little olive oil in a shallow pan, place the potatoes in it cut side down and leave them to cook. Halve and see 2 large yellow or red peppers, cut them into long strips and add to the pan. Peel and finely slice a large yellow or red onion and add it to the potatoes and butter along with a large knob of butter. Leave to cook, with the occasional stir, until the potatoes are nicely golden and the onion is starting to soften. Pour in 1 2/3

While you are pondering the large questions raised in Being Mortal, I would advise making something delicious from Eat. Savor, savor, savor!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

NYPD Red 3 by James Patterson

Another review from the intrepid Shirley Ayers, executive director of the Bradley Beach Chamber of Commerce: 

"Detectives Zach Jorden and his partner Kylie MacDonald are called upon to investigate the murder of a billionaire’s personal driver.  Along with the murder, the rich man’s son is kidnapped.

"Three generations of the Alden family are involved in the murder/kidnapping; Hutch (the father), Hunter (the son), and Tripp (the grandson).  The plot thickens when Tripp’s teachers at the private academy he attends seem to have parts in the plot.

"Separating the guilty from the innocent is very complicated but our detectives are up to it.

"I love the plot and all the characters."

Monday, March 16, 2015

Short Guest Review of "The Heist" by Daniel Silva

[Guest Review by Shirley Ayres]

The Heist

by Daniel Silva

While working in Venice, Gabriel Allon gets an urgent message that friend/art dealer Julian Isherwood is being accused of murder. The dead man has been stealing and selling priceless pieces of art. To help save Julian, Gabriel must try to find the stolen art work. Of course, his travels take him all over Europe. Good book, using several characters from previous books. 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Quick Guest Review: The English Girl by Daniel Silva

The English Girl by Daniel Silva (Gabriel Allon Series #13)

Reviewed by Shirley Ayres

While vacationing with friends in Corsica, Madeline Hart is kidnapped.  When it becomes known that she was the current English Prime Minister’s mistress, Gabriel Allon is called in to help find her.  The story starts in Corsica, goes back to England and then to Israel.  A dangerous trip to Russia takes Gabriel and his team close to death again.  Good story.  As usual, lots of action.

Monday, February 9, 2015

"Room: A Novel" by Emma Donoghue

New books are being churned out an an amazing rate every day so it's easy to miss a real gem if you don't keep a list of To-Reads. Room by Emma Donoghue was published in 2010, but it wasn't until last week that I sat down with the NY Times bestselling novel at the insistence of several library regulars. Immediately I was hooked. Donoghue tells the story of five-year-old  Jack and his Ma who has been held hostage in a shed for nearly a decade by the sadistic, sometimes violent, man that Jack refers to as Old Nick. The book is written from the perspective of Jack and begins just before his mother reveals to him the tragic reality of their situation. It becomes clear that as Jack continues to develop both physically and mentally, Room will not be sufficient to meet his or his Ma's needs.

The premise of the book is borrowed from real events. This knowledge alone will make this a novel that haunts you for days afterwards.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Guest Review: The Defector by Daniel Silva

Guest review submitted by Shirley Ayres. Thanks, Shirley!

The Defector by Daniel Silva

     The bad guy from Silva’s last spy novel, Moscow Rules Russian arms dealer, Ivan Kharkov, has defector Grigori Bulganov kidnapped and taken back to Russia. Grigori has saved Gabriel Allon’s life before defecting to the U.K. and his former employer, the KGB, wants him back to face punishment.
     When Allon’s new wife Chiara is also kidnapped, Gabriel knows both kidnappings are part of an elaborate scheme of Kharkov to force Gabriel to return to Russia so that Ivan exact revenge on Allon by  torturing before killing him.
     Another exciting spy novel from Silva proves the author is an excellent writer who does his research extensively.