Tuesday, March 28, 2017

ALL HE EVER WANTED by Anita Shreve

Finished Mo 3/26/17 Two days before I left for Arizona for a five day visit to Elsie's House. This is a hardback novel that Janny lent to me. I loved the book and will read more by this author. I have THE PILOT'S WIFE and I plan to read this soon.

ALL HE EVER WANTED perfectly captures the zeitgeist of the early 20th century as seen through the eyes of a very morally flawed show.

A one-sided love story between Nicholas Van Tassel and Etna Bliss. He is a mid-level professor at a backwater college in rural Thrupp, New Hampshire. She lived in Exeter, New Hampshire, but her father died, so she's with her uncle, his wife, and a niece.

Narrator is unreliable because of his pomposity and antiquated outlook; racist and male chauvinist.

One evening while while Van Tassel was dining at the Thrupp Hotel, a fire breaks out. Just before the chaos, he notices Etna, and this begins a lifelong obsession.

She agrees to marry him, but claims that she can never love him. They stay together for nearly fifteen years; two kids, Clara and Nicodemus.

Phillip Asher- A visiting professor. His brother, Sam, was the love of Etna's life. Both were engaged to other people, and Etna was emotionally devastated when Sam rejected her. This story is told through letters and Van Tassel's deductions. You never know exactly what happened by the individuals involved.

Etna has inherited a painting which she sold and bought a home in a nearby village. She just uses this place to read, sew, and write poetry. When Van Tassel learns of this place, he is incensed. This effectively marks the end of the relationship.

Phillip becomes a friend of Etna's and visits her at the house. Van Tassel sees them and assumes the worst. He gets Clara to lie to the authorities and claims that Phillip had molested her. This causes Phillip to lose his job at the college and he leaves the town.

We learn that Etna has left and moved to London where she lives the rest of her life with Sam, her long lost lover. We never learn of the details.

Novel happens in 1899 and 1914; it's told by Nicholas as a flashback from 1933 while on a train trip to his sister's funeral in Florida.

the book's page at wikipedia-


the author's page at wikipedia-


Friday, March 24, 2017

BLACK ICE by Michael Connelly

I bought this paperback novel at The Book Barn in Glendale, AZ on Mo 11/27/06 and I completed reading on Sa 1/13/07 which was the day of the library sidewalk sale in Springfield. In the book I found the receipt and a note to buy 'kitten' food for Buddy.

Re-finished Th 3/23/17- I had been reading this novel on and off for a couple of weeks.

A Harry Bosch novel- "hard-boiled urban detective"

A series of murders in LA lead Harry to a distribution center for a new drug called, Black Ice. This drug is a Mexican improvement of a similar drug made in Hawaii, Oahu, but the impurities cause the chemicals to turn black, The drug is manufactured at a large ranch near the border towns of Calexico and Mexicali.

Cal Moore is an undercover drug detective and an acquaintance of Harry's. Moore has apparently committed suicide, but this is found to be murder. Actually Moore is deeply involved in the smuggling ring, and he engineered his fake suicide to take on the identity of his half-brother.  

Gritty and Noir. Harry lives in an isolated cabin in the hills of LA and he is involved with the LA coroner and on the outs with his supervisor.

Page at amazon-


author's page at wikipedia-


I could read anything by Connelly and the Bosch series are only part of his large body of work. He also wrote THE LINCOLN LAWYER and BLOOD WORK which were made into fine Hollywood films.

Monday, March 20, 2017

THE SAME SKY by Amanda Eyre Ward

Finished Su 3/20/17  March 2017 selection for the Contemporary Book Club

Two interlocking stories-

Alice- Infertile co-owner, with husband Jake, of a world famous barbeque shop in Austin, TX. Both desperately want a child. They had a baby, Mitchel, through adoption, but the mother changed her mind, and they lost the kid after one day.

Alice becomes a Big Sister of a troubled teenager, Evian

Carla- Lives in Honduras and her mother is in Texas. Carla lives with her two brothers, Junior and Carlos, and her grandmother. Her grandmother dies and Carlos is removed to Texas by mom. The mother cares for all of her children, but circumstances are absolutely impossible.

At 13 yrs. old, Carla and Junior make the journey to the US with Ernesto, a gang member who takes pity on them. Carla is raped on the way, and makes it to Mexico and her mother manages to send $2,000 to pay the coyote.

Carla is pregnant after the rape and decides to give up the baby. The conditions in Austin are almost as bad as Honduras. She realizes that she must give up the baby so that she can have a live. Alice and Jake get the baby girl.

Great story, but seems a little too Young Adult. The two story lines works because it's only two, very distinct people. Split stories are generally just too confusing and not worth the effort.

author's website-


her facebook page-


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

THE ROSIE PROJECT by Graeme Simsion

Finished Mo 3/13/17

This book was given to me by Becky?, one of the members of the Contemporary Book Club.

I had read about how good this book was, and I had a slightly different idea of what the novel would be about. I thought that it would be a strange love story between a man with Asperger's and a barmaid. But, there is so much more to the actual novel. I loved it! Simsion wrote the book as a screenplay and I'm thrilled that it is going to be made into a movie.

The Wife Project- Don Tillman, genetics professor, somewhere on the spectrum of autism or Asperger's, writes a complex questionnaire to find his 'perfect mate'.

The Father Project- Don meets Rosie Jarman, a doctoral student of psychology and barmaid, he learns from her that her mother told her that who she thought was her father was not. Don, being a genetics professor, offers to test the various candidates. Rosie's mother said that she was impregnated at her father's graduation. One member of this class is Rosie's father.

The book is set in Australia and Don and Rosie travel to NYC for a few days in search of Rosie's biological father.

They become friends and Don realizes that he's actually capable of change, and later he finds the ability to express his own version of LOVE.

Many parts of the book are completely hilarious. The scenes of dancing should make a real impression when they appear in the movie. Also, Don's practicing sex using a doctor's skeleton as a partner.

The theme of the novel is that you don't find Love, but Love finds you.

Graeme Simsion is a former IT consultant and author of two nonfiction books on database design. At the age of fifty he decided to write fiction and THE ROSIE PROJECT is his first novel.

The author's page at wikipedia-


The book at amazon-


NPR review-


Thursday, March 9, 2017

BORN TO RUN by Bruce Springsteen

St. Rose of Lima; local church

39 1/2 Institute St., Freehold, NJ-      This is where he lived when he was very young. The house that he attended the Catholic school is about a half mile north.

78 Randolph-       His house was adjacent to the parking lot.

Bellevue Ave. and Ridge Road, Rumson, NJ-      This is much later in his career when he was married to his first wife.

Telegraph Hill Rd., Holmdel, NJ-       Another mansion with the first wife

Finished Fr 3/10/17  A library copy and I waited six weeks to get it.

Shocked to learn of his pre-E Street career

Castiles/Child/Steel Mill/Dr. Zoom and The Boom

He has a background in surfing. His first manager, Carl 'Tinker' West owned a surf shop and Bruce rehearsed and lived there.

Next manager, Mike Appel, played in The Balloon Farm 'A Question of Temperature'. Mike got him in to see John Hammond. Appel sounds like a difficult individual- always pushing/fighting for the cause.

His father was always unstable, but at the end of his life he became paranoid schizophrenic
"250 pounds of nickels in a pair of Sears slacks". Taciturn/Violent.

In 1968 his parents went to California. He stayed in NY, Ashbury to remain 'the big fish in a small pond'. However, he did go to California to try to fit with the hippies, but he saw so many talented musicians, he decided to 'retreat' to Ashbury.

Steel Mill was the last time that he tried 'garageband democracy'. After that, it was always Bruce Springsteen and The Band.  He'll listen to suggestions, but he makes the final decision.

In his early sixties he was very depressed. It's in his blood. He uses prescription drugs and touring to overcome them. He's had a therapist for decades. He credits Patti for helping him confront the demons.

One of his sons, Carl, is a fireman

His page at wikipedia-

page at amazon-

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

THE CORRECTIONS by Jonathan Franzen

Finished very early on the morning of Su 3/5/17

I bought this hardcover book at the main branch on Su 11/9/03, but never read it. This was my first time through it, and I loved every one of the nearly six hundred pages!

The story is set at the end of the 20th century and the title of the book refers to this change. The 'correction' will be slow, subtle, and not readily apparent; not, 'night and day'-  almost imperceptible, but most definitely a difference will be felt.

The story of The Lamberts-

Enid- the bossy mother that nitpicks, cajoles, and nags the rest of the family. Her one big hope is to unite the family at Christmas; a kind of final reunion.

Alfred- retired from the railroads where he was a mid to upper level executive. He's full of Republican values and represents 'The Old Way'. He's suffering from Parkinson's disease and dementia.

Gary- the oldest son who is employed as a fairly successful investment manager. He's not so lucky in his marriage. His wife has two of his three boys against him. She's almost 'gaslighting' him. She's got him convinced (halfway) that he's suffering from clinical depression. However, he does have a problem with alcohol. His wife WILL NOT go to Gary's parents home in St. Jude for Christmas. She has a point. Enid is a constant nag and never lets up for a minute.

Chip- the middle child. He's about to be a tenured professor at a small private college, but blows it when his sexual affair with a student is disclosed. Chip is a Marxist and the girlfriend is more of a 'Kardashian Republican'. She sees nothing wrong with being rich and can't accept Chip's view of Class Warfare- Rich against the Poor. She sees herself as just one more hustling 'small business owner'. Chip is trying to write a novel, but now makes his money fact checking and rewriting for a small newspaper. His mother, Enid, thinks that he works at the Wall Street Journal.

Denise- the baby of the family. She is a successful chef at a well known restaurant. The owner is very rich and wants her to establish a new restaurant in Philadelphia. It will be located in an refurbished power plant. Denise has an affair with him, and later, has an affair with the man's wife. This gets her fired. Her ex-husband is brought on to manage the restaurant that she developed. Denise is always cooking throughout the novel. Although deeply flawed, I felt she was the most reasonable of all the characters.

Although it was 568 pages, I didn't want it to end.

The book was selected to be part of Oprah's Book Club, but Franzen declined saying that his novel was better than that. He felt her selections were too 'lightweight'.

the author's page at wikipedia-


the novel's page at wikipedia-


the book at amazon-


Sunday, March 5, 2017


"The Forgotten War That changed American History"

This book was given to me by one of the members at FitClub West. This man is retired from the Presidential Library and he was the guy that recommended GEORGE WASHINGTON'S SECRET SIX, also by Kilmeade.

I got the book shortly before Xmas, 2016 and I read about a third of it, and it ended up a 'bathroom book' which I completed in late February, 2017.

Interesting true story about America's first international war. And, it was with Muslims!

The pirates in North Africa had been harassing international trade for centuries. They were hijacking ships and holding the sailors for ransom, and the Europeans treated this as the cost of business. Jefferson was the first world leader to refuse to pay tribute to pirates (terrorists). I suppose that contemporary conservatives would make the case that this is proof that Islam has been at war with Christianity from its' inception. However, I think that what's really going on, both in the nineteenth century and now, is that criminals are using religion to justify their evil intentions.

I was shocked to learn about Stephen Decatur. He was truly heroic and a key player in the war with Tripoli in the early 1800's.

From Amazon-

"When Thomas Jefferson became president in 1801, America was deeply in debt, with its economy and dignity under attack. Pirates from North Africa’s Barbary Coast routinely captured American merchant ships and held the sailors as slaves, demanding ransom and tribute payments far beyond what the new country could afford.

For fifteen years, America had tried to work with the four Muslim powers (Tripoli, Tunis, Algiers, and Morocco) driving the piracy, but negotiation proved impossible. Realizing it was time to stand up to the intimidation, Jefferson decided to move beyond diplomacy. He sent the U.S. Navy and Marines to blockade Tripoli—launching the Barbary Wars and beginning America’s journey toward future superpower status.

Few today remember these men and other heroes who inspired the Marine Corps hymn: “From the Halls of Montezuma to the Shores of Tripoli, we fight our country’s battles in the air, on land and sea.” Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates recaptures this forgotten war that changed American history with a real-life drama of intrigue, bravery, and battle on the high seas."

The author is one of the anchors at Fox News.


The Contemporary Book Club selection for February 2017- We 2/22/17. I loved the book, but the members were mixed in their reviews.

Basically, it's the story of a woman who revisits her past. She tries to reconnect with 'the love of her life' and it doesn't work out.

 Complicated plot- Her son is in a coma due to a traffic accident. The driver of the car was his half-sister, and he was unaware of any of his 'true' family background. The boy's father died the day before Clara met her current husband, Jonathan. Patrick, 'the love of her life', never saw her as much more than a passing affair.

Secrecy/marriage vs. sexual freedom/motherhood/loyalty

Set in contemporary San Francisco and London, Paris, and Ireland of 1989

page at amazon-