Newest Reviews

Books are reviewed on a 4-Star system

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New Books reviewed since last update
Title Author Type Rating Description Date Reviewed
Captain James Cook – A Biography Richard Hough Non-Fiction **** (Bradley) This is a 4 star read for those interested in sea history and 3 stars for the average reader.  To me this was a wonderfully fascinating read that filled in life at sea in the 1700’s.  While Richard’s style was a little dry and sometimes hard to follow, I very much enjoyed the story.  It filled in a great knowledge void which is appropriate given the immensely significant exploration Captain Cook accomplished in his short lifetime.  As somewhat of a modern day explorer, I am constantly amazed at the conditions under which Cook explored.  For the most part he had little or no charts and often what he did have, was of highly questionable accuracy.  It was just during his second and third expeditions that a time piece (a portable accurate watch) was finally created by John Harrison that allowed Navigators to accurately determine their Longitude with reference to GMT.  Captain Cook was responsible for much of what the English navy and others understood on how to prevent the scourge of the sea – Scurvy from taking up to 25% of crews.  In fact, he was so successful at looking after his men, that he could count on his fingers the number of losses he experienced on each of his expeditions – an unheard of accomplishment at the time.  I recommend one read this book with a good atlas handy, to better understand and visualize his voyages.  The maps in my paper back version are almost impossible to read.  For anyone who loves the sea, this is a must read. 2014-10
The Day the World Came to Town 9/11 Jim Defede Non-Fiction **** (Bradley) This is a wonderful uplifting story created by the terrible events of Sept 11, 2001 in the small town of Gander, Newfoundland, which just happened to have a major airport, compliments of the US Government.  When the US government decided to close US airspace on the morning of Sept. 11, over 250 aircraft were diverted to Canada, who graciously allowed them to land, even though there was substantial fear of additional terrorists on board those planes.  Gander, a small town of 10,000, ended up accepting 38 planes with 6,595 passengers and crew.  The town’s people and the surrounding towns rallied within hours to help the stranded passengers, complete stingers, who ending up spending up to 5 days with nothing more than their carry on.  To quote Jim – “The terrorists had hoped their attackes would reveal the weaknesses in the western society, the events in Gander proved its strength.” 2014-10
The Bastard John Jakes Historical Fiction **** First in the Kent Family series, this book tells the story of a young Frenchman, illegitimate son of an English lord who has promised to share his fortune. When the Lord takes ill, the young man and his mother travel to England to claim his fortune, but are derailed by the Lord’s wife and legitimate son. This sets in motion a series of events, leading to the  Colonies in America and the beginning of the revolution. Jakes is great at creating a story around real characters and events. This one includes Sam Adams, Ben Franklin, the Boston Tea Party, Paul Revere, and much much more. A very fun and engagin way to learn a little history. 2014-10
Me Before You Jojo Moyes Fiction **** (Bradley) There are two amazing aspect to the fact that I am reviewing this book.  One, I do not normally read fiction and two – it was one of the most intense books I have read in a long time – for me it was more like nonfiction.  Warning – this book addresses very difficult and controversial topics related to personal choice, Handicap rights and voluntary euthanasia.  I believe that Jojo does an outstanding job of presenting the impossible choices some of us have to make in our lives and the impact on those close to us.  Regardless of each individual’s personal choice on this topic as it effects them, we need more discussion, debate and understanding for those forced to confront these issues.  Jojo does an excellent job of pulling you into the topic, without turning it into a legal debate or a religious debate.  It is a discussion on a very personal level, that forces one to ask the question – How do we find the balance of happiness, when we are asked to choose between our happiness and those of the person we love. 2014-10
Hope for Wildlife – True Stories of Animal Rescue Ray Macleod Non-Fiction *** (Bradley) This book will appeal to the animal lovers among us.  Ray put together a series of short stories from Hope for Wildlife, a Nova Scotia wildlife rehabilitation center, with experiences over the past 16 years of its existence.  Hope was founded and continues to be run by Hope Swinimer, a certified veterinary practice manager, who also works a full time job at as administrator of the Dartmouth Veterinary Hospital.  Ray has included magnificent color photographs and some very interesting background on the each rescue animal whose story he tells. I most warn you, not all the stories have perfect endings, but he does provide some insight into the challenges of rescuing wild animals, rehabilitating them and releasing back into the wild.  The only aspect of this story I felt Ray missed was some serious discussion regarding the underling ethical questions and economic challenges associated with these types of organizations.  2014-10
Sex on the Moon Ben Mezrich Non-Fiction *** (Bradley) This is a fascinating story of one of the most audacious heists in history.  In 2003 an extremely gifted, overly confident Student Intern at the NASA Space Center Houston, pulled off an amazing theft of moon rocks from NASA.  This is the true story of how Thad Roberts went from high potential NASA Employee, maybe even Astronaut, to the Federal Penitentiary.  Ben does a very good job of keeping the suspense up, even though you know the outcome from the beginning of the book.  This was written with deep cooperation of Thad Roberts and is a very interesting read.  This is a classic example how to much confidence can sink the ship.  Very quick and easy read.  2014-10
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind William Kamkwamba & Bryan Mealer Non-Fiction *** (Bradley) This is a wonderful story about hope and what can actually be done in Africa to help the continent develop.  Very much worth ones time to read and appreciate all the good will of those who are trying to give back some of their business success in a positive fashion 2014-10
The Murder of the Century Paul Collins Non-Fiction *** If this story wasn’t true, it would be hard to believe. In 1897, a series of grisly discoveries of dismembered human remains begins the unraveling of a murder mystery. At the same time, newspaperment William Randolph Hurst and Joseph Pulitzer are battling for supremacy in their field. This is perhaps the first time the press figured prominently in not only reporting, but in interfering with and spinning the events. It’s a well told story, well documented and very interesting. 2014-10
Betrayal of Trust J. A. Jance Fiction *** This is the 19th book in the JP Beumont series. Another muder mystery begins when a snuff video is found on a cell phone, setting in motion a whole series of puzzling events. I continue to enjoy this character and the stories. Fun, mindless entertainment. 2014-10
Casual Vacancy J. K. Rowling Fiction *** J.K. Rowlings first novel aimed at adults is pretty good but not great. The death of a local politician causes a “casual vacancy” which requires a special election to fill. Various people in the small town have ambitions of filling the seat. The book looks into the lives of several local families. It’s a bit of a soap opera, but the characters are interesting and the story reasonable. A bit longer than it should have been but I enjoyed it, though I much preferred The Cuckoo’s Calling which she wrote under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. 2014-10
Fire and Ice J. A. Jance Fiction *** Arizona Sheriff Joanna Brady and Seattle Detective JP Beaumont team up in this murder mystery. Investigating separate cases, there turns out to be a link which brings the two together. As a reader of both series, I enjoyed this one. 2014-10
Six Years Harlan Cobam Fiction *** I accidentally bought the abridged version of this book from Audible so wasn’t sure how that would work out. Turns out is was just fine. It’s a fun mystery – a professor meets a woman and they fall madly in love, but then she inexplicably dumps him to marry an old flame. Six years later the old flame is murdered and it turns out he was married – to someone else. The story unfolds and makes for easy entertainment. Hard to imagine what was cut from the originial – I enjoyed this version. 2014-10
Sycamore Row John Grisham Fiction *** When a wealthy man dying of cancer leaves his estate to his black housekeeper, the family takes the matter to court. Local lawyer Jake Brigance receives a letter from the man written before he died asking him to defend his wishes. It’s a typical Grisham legal thriller with lots of side stories. Fun and easy read. 2014-10
The Black Box Michael Connelly Fiction *** The latest in the Harry Bosch series, this involves an old case from 1992 when the young Harry was the first on the scene to the murder of a white woman during the race riots in LA. With many other crimes occurring, the case was left to linger but is now resurrected. Harry has his typical run-ins with incomeptent beaurocrats but manages to find the “Black Box” – the crucial clue that leads to solving the case. A good story and easy read 2014-10
Let Me Survive Louise Longo Non-Fiction ** (Bradley) A true tale of the very sad story of a Mom, Dad and 5 year old who decide to take a sailing trip together.  The book is a very quick and easy read, but very emotional.  It also drives home for any sailor or cruiser, that you never, ever get into a life raft until you are stepping up into it, as the boat is literally sinking.   From an experienced sailors perspective, Louise does not address many of the key questions, and as it happened before internet in 1994, there is not a lot of other information out there.  It is a great read for those cruising to drive home some key points on preparing for the worst.  It is also a very good read for the non sailors, to get a sense of the true challenges of cruising. 2014-10
Sailing A Serious Ocean John Kretschmer Non-Fiction ** (Bradley) John is an extremely well respected sailor author, but this book has two faults in my opinion.  One, it is written almost exclusively for those who are serious sailors or those thinking about purchasing a boat and heading offshore. This book not for the general public  Two and more importantly – I disagree with so much of what he says and how often he ends up in bad weather.  That is not to say that for those thinking of purchasing a boat, there is not some excellent information and insights in the book.  It is just that I fear those just joining the cruising world might get the wrong idea on some critical issues.  I also believe John missed a key cruising sailboat, Oyster, that have clearly demonstrated they are ocean capable.  I do not believe there is any other brand of boat that has so many circumnavigations under its hulls.  Why he elected to leave this boat out, I do not know, but I suspect it may be a price issues.  There are far better sailing books to spend one’s time on.  2014-10
Gone Girl Gillian Flynn Fiction ** This one was interesting for awhile but in the end became so whacky and far-fetched I just couldn’t wait for it to be done. For me, this had great potential but did not live up to it. 2014-10
The Buffalo Soldier Chris Bohjalian Fiction ** I really enjoyed The Sandcastle Girls and hoped for a similar experience with this book. Although it was enjoyable, it was much more pure fiction, with only tangential references to the real Buffalo soldiers. A family loses twin daughters in a tragic flood and several years later takes in a foster child, a young African American boy. A fairly engaging story and easy read, but I was a bit disappointed that the story of the Buffalo soldiers was not more entwined in the story. 2014-10
Previously reviewed books
Title Type Author Rating This book also provides some insights into the wonderful people of Nova Scotia, whom we have been lucky to meet shining examples of as we have explored NS over the past two summers. Date Reviewed
I am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced Nujood Ali Non-Fiction **** I am rating this book as a 4-star, not because it’s a great book but because everyone should read it. It is the story of 10-year old Nujood, who is given by her father into an arranged marriage to an abusive husband. Finally presented with an opportunity to escape, she makes her way to the courthouse where she insists on seeing a judge. Eventually, she finds help and is granted a divorce. But it is a very disturbing story about what goes on in many parts of the world today and the tragedy is that most girls and women have little or no chance of escape. 2014-06
On the Edge of Survival Spike Walker Non-Fiction **** Great story of the daring rescue by the US Coast Guard of the crew of a tanker which became disabled in the Bering Sea. Walker does a great job of re-creating the scenes and did extensive interviews with many of the key figures in the story. I hope to continue to read stories in this genre, but truly hope never to star in one! 2014-06
Twelve Years a Slave Solomon Northup & Dr. Sue Eakin Non-Fiction **** (Bradley)This book has to stand out as one of the most important books of our history, and should be required reading for all high school students in the US – if not the world.  There is not much I can say about this book that has not already been written.  This book along with the likes of “The Diary of Anne Frank” “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” “Night” and (pick your own), has changed the world.  This is not an easy read and creates very painful and graphic images in your minds eye.  Notwithstanding that, this must be the next book on your reading list.  (Kathy) I concur with Bradley’s review! 2014-06
The Corps Series (Books 1 to 10) W.E.B Griffin Historical Fiction **** (Bradley) This is not a series of books that will appeal to all.  However, having grown up as an Army brat, and experiencing the recent  passing of my father, I enjoyed this series on two levels.  One, it is a fascinating story, that while told in fiction has much truth in it.  It brought back many memories of the subtleties  of living on a military base, where so much is determined one’s father’s rank and job.  It tied together much of how my sister and I were raised by my father, his approach and even some of his words of wisdom.  Two, and more important to most readers, I felt it provided a realistic look at the war years and just what the brave men and women of are military faced during WWII.  I also believe it was honest in exposing the politics of our military,that is even more evident and harmful today to our country.  I shudder to think that as the apparent accuracy of the books improves, my confidence in our civilian leaders declines – particularly those in congress.  Definitely a worth while but time consuming easy read. 2014-06
David and Goliath Malcom Gladwell Non-Fiction *** Like most of Gladwell’s books, this presents some very interesting scenarios which, if nothing else, encourage thinking and discussion. The subject of this book is Little Guys vs. Big Guys or why disavantages are sometimes helpful while advantages sometimes are the cause of failure. The book covers a wide range of scenarios, from war to education to raising children, to overcoming many kinds of obstacles. Some good stories and good observations. Well worth a read 2014-06
Streisand – Her Life (1995 Edition, new release in 2013) James Spada Non-Fiction *** (Bradley) Disclaimer – I am a fan of Barbra’s music and acting and I have always thought she was a wonderfully attractive woman.  I thought Spada did a good job of presenting all aspects of Barbra in a fair and objective light.  I for one could not live with the type of public scrutiny hoisted upon her by our worthless Tabloid press and even some of the main stream media.  I believe strongly that each of us, regardless of our role in this world deserve a private life.  For someone like myself who does not follow Hollywood at any level, this was an interesting read, but I think Spada spent a little to much time on BS of hollywood.  The book could have been 100 pages shorter and a better read without the detail of which producer quit in the middle.  Who cares – it is the end product that counts.  Over all if you enjoy her music and acting I recommend reading or skimming. 2014-06
A Fatal Grace Louise Penny Fiction *** Second in the Inspector Gamache series, the town of Three Pines in Quebec is once again the scene of a murder and Inspector Gamache and his team are there to solve it. The story is good but I especially enjoy the narrator (audiobook) and the French-Canadian flavor of the characters. A fun and easy read. 2014-04
Double Cross James Patterson Fiction * Not sure why I even started this book as I have found many of Patterson’s tales to be excessively gruesome and not very believable. I stuck with this one for a little while before finally realizing I wasn’t enjoying it at all – while I enjoy a good mystery, I don’t enjoy the sick, graphic details in these books. 2014-06
Frozen in Time Mitchell Zuckoff Non-Fiction **** This is the story of US air bases in Greenland during WWII, the crash of two planes and subsequent efforts to locate and rescue the survivors, more attempts to rescue the rescuers, and finally the modern day attempts to locate the wreckage and remains of those who did not survive. A well documented story that alternates between the past and present, with the author actively involved in the expedition to locate one of the rescue planes that crashed, the book provides some great history, personal stories of courage and survival, and insight into the difficulties of dealing with such a harsh envinronment as Greenland. As we are planning to visit Greenland by boat, this book was of particular interest and serves as a reminder that you don’t want to get caught in a survival situation, especially in the winter months! 2014-05
The Aviator’s Wife Historical Fiction Melanie Benjamin **** (Bradley) In the Author’s Note at the end Melanie establishes a key goal for herself when writing Historical Fiction – “The most gratifying thing to hear is that the reader was inspired, after reading my work to research these remarkable people’s lives further. “  She clearly accomplishes this goal in Aviators Wife, a historically accurate fiction of Anne Morrow Lindbergh.  This is not normally within my reading genre, as she spends a lot of time on flowery descriptions and emotional speculation, but I found my self unable to put the book down and I plan to read other non-fiction books on Anne Lindbergh.  I must admit a very strong disrespect for mr. lindbergh, who was a very outspoken anti-Semite and early supporter of hiltler.  This books provides some wonderful insights into the generation of our Grandmothers and to a lessor extent our mothers and the extra challenges they encountered in life.  Would like to hear others thoughts on the book. 2014-05
The King’s Speech – How one man saved the British Monarchy Non-Fiction Mark Logue & Peter Conradi **** (Bradley) This is a fascinatingly interesting true story of how an Australian, Lionel Logue, a pioneer in the field of Speech Therapy, impacted the future of the British Monarchy.  When Edward VIII abdicated, his brother became the King of England, in a critical period before WWII began.  King George had a life long stammer that made giving speeches and public specking extremely difficult for him.  I found this story to provide some wonderful insights into the British Monarch that we do not usually see, including just how hard the King and Queen worked at their job of providing leadership and guidance to the British empire.  This book is definitely worth your time to read and provides greater insight & detail than the move.  2014-05
Startup Nation Non-Fiction Dan Senor and Saul Singer **** (Bradley) Dan Señor and Saul Singer provide an in-depth look at why Israel,  a nation of 7.1 million mostly immigrants, surrounded by sworn enemies who refuse to trade with them, and no natural resources lead the world in many areas of business development.  This is a fascinating book that provides lots of great business insights and some wonderfully fascinating statistics. While the authors do not prove their premise in a scientific fashion, they do an outstanding job of pulling together some wonderful theories as to why the Israeli economy has successfully been able to overcome 7 wars since its founding and still continues to perform in such a hostile environment.    2014-04
The Eighty Dollar Champion Non-Fiction Elizabeth Letts **** Along the lines of Sea Biscuit, this book recounts the story of Snowman, a horse literally rescued from a slaughterhouse truck and taken home to become a school horse for teaching students at a girls school. When Snowman is sold to a neighbor, he keeps turning up back “home”, despite a series of high fences between properties. When it becomes clear that Snowman is jumping these fences on his own, he begins training as a show jumper and soon captures the heart of the nation. Snowman was a champion jumper in the late 1950’s, a little before my time, but I remember him as a legend during my equestrian days and many of the characters in the book who make up the US Equestrian Team were my childhood idols. I truly enjoyed the details of the story. 2014-04
Boy Alone Non-Fiction Karl Taro Greenfield *** The authors story of growing up with a severely autistic brother. It is a heart wrenching personal tale of the toll that this special needs child brings on the whole family and especially the impact it has on the author, who at once loves his brother but also longs to have a brother who he interact and share his life with. The book takes an unexpected twist which will have you on a bit of a roller coaster. I highly recommend this book for anyone wanting to learn more about autism or about the realities of caring for a severely disabled child. 2014-04
Into the Light Non-Fiction Dave & Jaja Martin *** (Bradley) As a sailor and adventurer, I enjoyed Dave & Jaja’s exploits.  It is a well written and fun book to read, especially for anyone interested in northern latitude sailing.  It also provides those who do not seek adventure offshore, an accurate look at some of the challenges faced.   Yes, their boat may have been a little on the small side and less complex to operate than the average ocean cruising boat, but we have met people who crossed both the Atlantic and Pacific on even a smaller boat with a 3 to 6 year old.  I can also say, that while some people might unfairly be critical because they did all of this with 3 children, I have yet to meet any boat children who are not light years ahead of their peers in intelligence, maturity and personality, while still being children appropriate to their age.   My only criticism is that in this day and age, there were not a few more pictures or at least a valid link to current website.  This book is worth your time to read if you enjoy real life adventure. 2014-04
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Non-Fiction Rebecca Skloot  *** A well researched and detailed account of Henrietta Lacks, a poor black woman whose cervical cancer cells were the first human cells to be successfully grown in a laboratory and subsequently revolutionized medical research. It is also a sad story of Henrietta’s family, who were never told the truth about the cells and the lack or privacy and regulation over patients rights during that time. The book is a bit tedious at times, but overall a very well done story. 2014-04
The Sandcastle Girls Historical Fiction Chris Bohjalian *** Beautifully written historical fiction novel covering the story of several people in Armenia during the genocide in 1915 and the granddaughter of two of those people who knew little of the events of that time until she began researching her family history. Somewhat autobiographical, this is an engaging story set in a very real and brutal time. Well worth a read. 2014-04
Dressed for Death Fiction Donna Leon *** Set in Italy, a detective is assigned to investigate the death of a transvestite. Refusing to believe the obvious conclusions, he becomes obsessed with finding the truth. A nice change from the standard US murder mystery as this introduces a different culture but with some great characters. 2014-04
The Last Refuge Fiction Chris Knopf *** A reclusive and cynical resident of a small town is thrust into an investigation when his neighbor dies and he assumes responsibility for administering her estate. Good characters and well told story. An enjoyable read. 2014-04
Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight Non-Fiction Alexandra Fuller ** Author’s memoir of growing up white in Africa during turbulent times. Colorful and interesting, the book focuses mostly on personal issues and tragedies within a somewhat eccentric family with the historical events of the times in the background. Personally I would have enjoyed the historical events to be in the forefront, but otherwise enjoyed the book. 2014-04
Seven Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness Non-Fiction Eric Metaxas ** (Bradley) Eric Metaxas approaches his topic with such a personal agenda and religious bias, that I felt he was unable to objectively define what makes great men.  He elected to write 7 short Bios’ on George Washington, William Wilberforce Jackie Robinson, Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  Eric Liddell, Pope John Paul II and Charles Colson.  While I will grant him the first three, and stand on the fence regarding Bonhoeffer, the last three do not qualify as great men.  They may have done a great deed or two, but they certainly did not lead an exemplary life. Part of my issue with his selection process is Eric’s putting on a pedestal those men who were able to recruit new believers in his religion.  While I gladly accept anyone’s personal belief structure, I feel this need by most of the worlds major religions to continue to prove themselves by actively and sometimes force ably recruiting new converts is one of the fundamental problems the world faces today. In addition I felt Eric missed several men who had a far greater positive impact on the world than Colson, Pope Paul II, Liddell and Bonhoeffer. What about Sam Adams, Benjamin Franklin,  Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Winston Churchill; just to name a few of the more obvious candidates.     2014-04
Killer Fiction Jonathan Kellerman ** I love Kellerman and his Alex Delaware series but this one just didn’t do it for me. A fairly obvious perpetrator with a pretty unbelievable (silly) motive overcomes the characters and otherwise good writing. 2014-04
  1. #1 by click here on October 17, 2013 - 10:41 pm

    Everyone would benefit from reading this post

    Like

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