Monday, August 31, 2015

Orphan #8 by Kim van Alkemade

     It's 1954, and Rachel Rabinowitz is a nurse in the hospice wing of the Old Hebrews Home in NYC.  When a bed opens up, a new patient named Mildred Solomon comes under Rachel's care.  Solomon's insistence at being called "Doctor" leads Rachel to wonder if this is the same Dr. Solomon that performed numerous X-rays on her when she was at the Hebrew Infant Home in the early 1920s, leading to Rachel's permanent baldness.  It is.
     This leads Rachel to attempt to learn more about Dr. Solomon and her X-ray treatments.  What Rachel thought were treatments for an illness turn out to be X-rays done on healthy children for medical research purposes.  Alternating chapters present snapshots of her earlier life alongside her current one, so we understand how she perceived events when they happened to her, as well as how she feels about them now, when she has more facts.  As Rachel's understanding unfolds, her anger at what she was subjected to rises, and she debates exacting revenge on Dr. Solomon.  
    I enjoyed reading this book, especially the added chapter in the back where the author shares some of her family history (complete with photos), which was inspiration for much of the book.  Although I didn't always like how Rachel reacted to events, I felt that she was portrayed realistically, and struggled with tough emotions like we all do at times.

Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin

      Rose, a high functioning tween on the autism spectrum, loves homonyms, rules, and routines.  Her own name is a homonym. So, when her father brings her a dog one rainy night, it only makes sense to name her something that is also a homonym, Rain.        In the book, we learn about Rose’s struggles relating to kids in her class; the frustration she feels with someone who doesn’t follow the rules; and the relationships with her father, her Uncle Weldon and Rain.
        Her father didn’t follow the rules and let Rain out alone after a major inland hurricane has hit their community.  Rain has now been lost and Rose’s world is turned upside down.  

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Pirate Hunters by Robert Kurson

One nice thing about Robert Kurson's Pirate Hunters is that it fills several of your "reading needs" all at once - especially if you are into non-fiction pieces. The book is a mystery, a history tale, a biography and an adventure book all rolled into one.
Pirate Hunters explores the lives of two modern day treasure hunters, John Chatterton and John Mattera, as they search for the remains of the Golden Fleece - a treasure ship from the Golden Age of pirating. With that general purpose in mind, the book takes you through the lives of Chatterton and Mattera; through their search for the Golden Fleece; through the history of Golden Age piracy; it looks at many modern day treasure hunters, their successes and failures; it explores the life of the captain of the Golden Fleece and how the wreck came to be; and it covers the frustrations of Chatterton and Mattera as they conduct an exhaustive search for the Golden Fleece.
With all of these things going on in the same book, it makes for a very fast read - especially if you are wanting to get to the end to find out if the Golden Fleece exists, or not. I found the book to be very informative and enjoyable. I will let you decide if the end is a fulfilling one or not - that all depends on the type of ending you are looking for.

The Apple Cookbook by Olwen Woodier

With September and October on their way, apple season is upon us! I understand the harvest of apples this year is plentiful. So, I picked up this book with "125 Freshly Picked Recipes". The donuts on the cover were my first temptation. I checked to see if there was a recipe for apple fritters and there were two. Next, I noticed how they incorporated apples into meat dishes and main courses. Lastly, I saw the section on preserving the apple harvest. So if you have apples coming out of your ears, pick up this book for some new ideas.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume

In 1952, 3 plane crashes devastated the town of Elizabeth, New Jersey.  The community mourns for the lost but moves forward.  Having lived in Elizabeth at the time, Blume channeled her firsthand experience into Miri Ammerman, a wise and eccentric teenager coping with peer pressure and first love.  The novel begins with Miri flying back to her hometown for the 35th memorial of the victims and ends in the '80s, following up on how the characters develop.  We traveled back in time where Blume painted a vivid depiction of the '50s.  The story has many subplots, besides the mother and daughter relationship of Miri and Rusty, Blume weaves in a host of characters, exploring the non-traditional themes of love and family, philosophical and existential queries and the nuances of living day-to-day.  As Miri points out, "Life is a series of unlikely events... adding up to a rich and complicated whole."