Top Ten 2015


  1. The Buried Giant
  2. Claude and Camille
  3. I Regret Everything
  4. The House of Silk
  5. A Moveable Feast
  6. Go Set a Watchman
  7. The Marriage of Opposites
  8. The Land of Steady Habits
  9. The Canterbury Sisters
  10. Our Souls at Night
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Wars of the Roses: Margaret of wpid-9781490684000.jpgAnjou by Conn Iggulden is historical fiction based on the life of King Henry VI and his french-born Queen, Margaret.

This is a bloody tale of the period when Henry VI was mentally impaired and wars were waged between several Earls and their armies for control of England and personal gain.

Prior to listening to this epic tale, I knew very little about Henry VI. It is an interesting story and the author’s prose are very descriptive. A bit too much for me personally, but wars are bloody, violent, and  never pretty. There are aspects of life which never change. As the story unfolded, I was reminded of the House of Cards series. Intrigue, power plays, and back-stabbings (literally) abound in stories which involve power struggles. History repeats itself over and over again; only the players change.

There are additional books in this series which cover different monarchs. I would like to read them sometime because I love history.  My only disappointment with this book was I never heard any conjecture of what was physically wrong with King Henry VI. Perhaps no one knows because he lived so long ago.  Either way, I think this history was very well-written.

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Expert Advice

wpid-00500907-200x279.jpg.jpgIt recently came to my attention that Penguin Publishers created a hotline for anyone seeking book recommendations! What a brilliant idea for gift-giving or your personal use!  I love it!

Here is the link:

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Yearning To Be Free

wpid-51zrpoxvisl._sl1500_.jpgA Backpack, a Bear, and Eight Crates of Vodka by Lev Golinkin is an inspirational memoir written by a young Russian Jew about his family’s emigration to the U.S. in the early 90’s.

The story begins in the former USSR where young Lev, a non-practicing Jew, experienced religious persecution. After successfully navigating the Soviet bureaucratic maze, his family fled Russia. The book chronicles their struggles along the way to freedom and the many difficulties and sacrifices they endured for the attainment of liberty.

I learned a great deal from this book about life behind the Iron Curtain and also gained a clearer perspective of the life of someone who arrives in the country of my birth as an immigrant. All of my late grandparents were immigrants and I wish I knew more about their stories. Lev’s story is moving and hopeful. I’m glad to have read it.

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The tragic, senseless attacks yesterday in Paris have left me deeply saddened and troubled. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

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wpid-81ri1822xjl._sl1500_.jpgLike Family by Paolo Giordano was delivered to my doorstep and read during the month which will mark the my late sister Joan’s 64th birthday. It will be the first since her passing in May of this year. The irony of this is that Giordano wrote this beautiful little book to honor the memory of his child’s former nanny.  For many years, my sister worked in daycare centers where she cared for other people’s children. As I read this book, I couldn’t help but recognize small similarities between Giordano’s nanny and my late sister’s lives. Both were married, but never had children of their own.

I thought also of other women who cared for me and my children during our lives. It is a rare gift to be able to love another woman’s child as deeply as if it were your own. Truly it is a blessing to receive love from a person with such a giving heart.

Giordano’s book is touching and beautiful. I am grateful it came to me when it did. It soothed my soul. The timing could not have been more perfect. There are no mistakes in the universe.

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Nowhere to Hide

Saving Grace by Anthony Doerr was wpid-517hig6ftql._sy400_.jpg
published in 2009. After loving his award-winning novel earlier this year, I wanted to read more of his work. I didn’t expect this story to be anything like All the Light We Cannot See, but in some ways it was. This is a story of redemption.

The main character in this novel, David Winkler, is a man reviewing his life while on a plane to the USA from a Caribbean island where he has lived for several decades. Mr Winkler is a man with prophetic dreams; dreams which foretell death. It is a dream about his infant daughter Grace which pushes him over the edge and away from the family he loves.

The story is a real nail biter. Doerr takes his readers on a very long, complex journey. It isn’t until the very end of the novel that Winkler resolves the life altering conflict instigated by his reaction to a prophetic dream.

I thought the story was interesting, but much of it caused me to lose interest along the way. I thought there was way too much in the story about insects and snow. The ongoing storyline of etymology made my skin crawl and even though Alaska and snow figure prominently in the story, it left me cold. I’m sure these are literary devices, but thought there was just too much of it. Doerr’s writing is very descriptive and I admired this aspect of the novel.

If meteorology, etymology, and what defines a family is of interest to you, I imagine you would like this book.

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