Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Journey That Saved Curious George by Louise Borden

     It was so interesting to read about the history of H.A. and Margret Rey. I was surprised that their name change occurred while they were living in Brazil and not due to the fact that they were of Jewish origin in a developing Nazi regime. Then later they decide to go to Europe for a honeymoon trip and end up living in Paris.
     The part of their story that was most fascinating to me was the part where you begin to worry about the encroaching army. To leave your home because you fear for your life (an activity unknown to most modern-day Americans, like me) takes courage. What a harrowing experience!
     At one point, before they leave Paris on bikes, Hans was working hard on his projects, because "in wartime, children needed good books and songs more than ever". I feel Hans and Margret really did work hard to create, for children, fun and playful stories. They managed to experience a lot of wonderful times, interrupted on occasion by men's horrific wars, and still ended up giving to the world on of our most loved book characters; Curious George.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Lost City of the Monkey God by Douglas Preston

One world-famous author.  A team of archeologists and explorers.  The impenetrable Honduran jungle.  Combine those with modern LIDAR technology, which allows explorers to see minute surface terrain changes, even through dense undergrowth. This is the recipe for a real-life Indiana Jones story; archeologists in search of a legendary city of treasure buried deep within the Honduran jungle.  The natives of the area supposedly used it as a last point of refuge against Spanish invaders, but warned that anyone who looked upon the city would die.  LIDAR showed that the city might be real, but the only way to know for sure was for Preston and company to venture deep into a deadly, uncharted rainforest.  Did they find the immense wealth that was spoken of in the legend?  Or did they instead find the death that was whispered about? Sometimes, a curse can be more than just  a mere saying...

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Faithful by Alice Hoffman

Shelby and Helene are high school best friends, ready to go to college and seem to have a bright future until one wintry evening when they skid off the road in their car.  Helene remains in a coma and Shelby eventually recovers but carries emotional scars and survivor guilt that spiral out of control.  Forget about college, living day to day becomes a challenge, not only for Shelby but her family as well.  The first third of the book is really dark where Hoffman explores abuse in psychiatric wards, self-mutilation and alienation, but Hoffman's magic touch is at work.  This is an engaging read about friendship, guardian angels, the displaced, and how one sometimes falls into a bottomless pit in order to resurface.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Family Tree by Susan Wiggs

Annie Rush's life is suddenly shattered in an accident leaving her in a coma due to a brain injury.  When she awakens and slowly regains her memory and strength she has a lot of tough decisions to make.  She is now living in Vermont with her caring family who run a maple tree farm, in a town full of good and bad memories. She reconnects with her first love, Fletcher, and remembers the truth of what occurred with her marriage just before the accident.  This book goes back and forth in time telling the past and present. Interesting details of Annie's love of cooking and the family's production of maple syrup are included.  The story of the history of Annie and Fletcher and what happens in both their lives is full of sadness, but also joy and second chances.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher

Another inside look at her life experiences, Carrie Fisher's The Princess Diarist is as sad as it is funny when you look at it in the context of her passing soon after its release. The book is a fitting tribute to her part of the Star Wars saga, its origins and its continued growth for new generations of fans.
Fisher writes in a fast-paced, tip-of-the-tongue style that allows for quick reading. The book covers here auditions for the role of Princess Leia as well as her subsequent affair with co-star Harrison Ford and other happenings from the Star Wars studios. For long-time fans of the movies there is some new ground covered here.
Fisher also relates how her life has been shaped by being Princess Leia, and how she had come to both enjoy and embrace the role. There are some interesting accounts of meeting with fans and signing autographs at conventions.
The mid-section of the book contains actual passages from the diaries she kept while acting in Star Wars, adding a glimpse at the 20-year-old Fisher as she dealt with all of the emotions of that time.
Fisher's light, conversational writing style makes this book a quick, but very enjoyable read. It can easily be tackled in an afternoon or evening.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Two Days Gone by Randall Silvis

Thomas Huston is a well-liked college professor, and recently published a bestselling book.  Then, his wife Claire and their 3 children are found murdered in their home, and Thomas is nowhere to be found.  Ryan DeMarco is assigned to the case.  He knows Thomas, considers him a friend, and is determined to locate Thomas and find some answers.  He find out that the novel Huston was currently researching/writing involved a woman named Annabel, so Ryan sets out to find her, hoping she can lead him to Thomas.
  
Alternating between Ryan's and Thomas' point of view, the facts come to light.  This is a smartly written thriller, and if you're a literary geek, it contains references to Poe and Nabokov that you'll appreciate.  If not, it's still a page turner!

Friday, January 6, 2017

The Art of Miss Chew by Patricia Polacco

     Patricia Polacco is a well-known children's author. I am often very moved after reading one of her stories. This story was no exception. Because I have a consistent interest in art, I particularly wanted to read this one.
     As it turns out, it is a sort of biography of the author. She tells about a period in her life when her family was back in California. She was back in school. She had improved in her ability to read, but did not test well. With the help of two amazing teachers (and one nasty, mean teacher), she was able to overcome her shortcomings and develop her love for drawing and painting. In fact, at the Spring Art Show where her painting of Mr. Donavan's father was displayed, she realized it was the "defining moment" in her young life. Now, her talent is unmistakable.
     This story really made me want to be one the encouragers of the world. It is a good thing when you can come away from a story and feel enlightened.